Providing breastfeeding support during the COVID-19 pandemic: Concerns of mothers who contacted the Australian Breastfeeding Association
ABA Research published online ‘pre-print’.
Concerns of mothers seeking breastfeeding support during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the experiences of Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) volunteers who assisted them, were explored via an online survey. Surveys were completed 16th March to 18th of May 2020 and described the COVID-19 related concerns of 340 individuals. One hundred and thirty-six mothers (64%) sought support to protect their infants by continuing breastfeeding, increasing milk supply, or restarting breastfeeding. Mothers were commonly stressed, isolated and needing reassurance. Thirty-four (10%) raised concerns about COVID-19 and breastfeeding safety. One hundred and twenty-nine (61%) informed volunteers they were unable to access face-to-face health services because of fear or unavailability. Most common breastfeeding concerns were related to insufficient milk or weight gain, painful breasts, relactation, and reducing supplemental milk. Volunteers reported mothers were worried stress had reduced milk supply, that milk supply concerns were exacerbated by the inability to weigh infants, and that seeking medical treatment was being delayed. ABA volunteers stated they felt supported and confident assisting mothers while also expressing distress at mother’s situation. ABAs role in emergency response should be recognised and national planning for infant and young child feeding in emergencies, must be urgently developed, funded, and implemented.