The Covid-19 pandemic has had an effect on all of us. Research about its effects is only beginning to emerge.
We recently came across a research paper about the experience of breastfeeding women during this pandemic. We are interested to know if it resonates with your own experience or the experience of those around you.
This study was done in the UK by Dr. Amy Brown and Natalie Shenker. We have heard Dr. Brown speak and highly respect her work.
Initially, we were surprised to read that just over 40% of women felt the lockdown had had a positive impact on their breastfeeding experience. But, as we thought about it more, it began to make sense.
The reasons given included:
- Slower pace of life. There were no social commitments and very few appointments. Mothers were able to focus just on their babies at home.
- Fewer visitors. Throughout our careers new families have told us they had too much company in the first first days and weeks after birth. A pandemic and social distancing erased this problem for many families.
- More privacy. With less visitors in their homes, new moms had the opportunity to do more skin to skin time and to work on latching without the fear of exposing themselves.
- Easier to feed responsively. As new moms were at home and not entertaining visitors they could be more in tune with the earliest signs their baby was hungry.
- More support from their partner. The pandemic meant that some partners were working from home or temporarily off work. While this comes with its own challenges, it can mean more of the partner’s time was able to be focused on the family.
- Delayed return to work. Some mothers were temporarily furloughed from their jobs while others were able to return to work but do it at home.
For many women, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was more negative. The following were listed as having an impact:
- Lack of face to face support from health care professionals. Mothers found it difficult to explain issues over the phone or from across the room. Of the women who stopped breastfeeding before they intended, 70% said lack of face to face support had been a problem.
- Lack of social and emotional support. Many women felt isolated without the support of their friends or mother-baby groups. They missed asking questions or getting reassurance from other mothers.
- Lack of support and hands on assistance from relatives. Many new mothers found themselves alone, without the practical support they had planned. The lockdown and travel restrictions meant that grandparents or other relatives were unable to be present in their homes.
We’ve been thinking a lot about the impact of the pandemic on pregnant and breastfeeding women. While we cannot erase all of the negatives, we have come up with 3 strategies to help support these women.
Number 1: We’ve committed to sharing regularly on our Facebook and Instagram accounts. We’ll focus on supportive information for new and expectant families. If you know someone at this stage of life, please encourage them to follow along.
Number 2: We’ve begun a new, more interactive prenatal class to link pregnant women with others going through the same experience. We hope the relationships and support will continue long after the class is over. The 4 week Prenatal Power Prep class begins on the first day of every month. Please share this link with pregnant women you may know.
Number 3: We are piloting a Motherhood Inner Circle membership to connect new moms with each other while providing crucial information for this special time of their life. We keep numbers low to be able to care for women individually but plan to open the membership 4 – 6 times a year. If you know someone who could benefit, direct them to our wait list and we’ll be in touch as soon as we can accommodate new members.
We’d love to hear about your experiences with pregnancy or breastfeeding during the pandemic. How has it affected you?