Breastfeeding taskforce

Staff changes and pandemic measures may have interfered with breastfeeding in a hospital nursery, study found

The COVID-19 pandemic has had many impacts on the health of families. While exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control for its immunity, bonding and health benefits, mothers were less likely to breastfeeding during the pandemic, according to research presented during the 2022 National AAP Conference and Expo.

The authors of the abstract, “The Effect of SARS-CoV-2 on the Rates of Breastfeeding in the Newborn Nursery,” found an 11% decrease in the rate of exclusive breastfeeding and a 4% decrease in any breastfeeding during the COVID pandemic compared to before.

“There is a false belief that breastfeeding is a natural instinct that is supposed to happen out of thin air. Breastfeeding is a skill that both mother and baby need to learn,” said Dr. Amy Yeh, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Director of Neonatal Care. – Trained in Perinatal Medicine, Division of Neonatology, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and Fellow Neonatologist, LAC+USC Medical Center. “Every mom, baby and dad is unique. It’s all about picking up on baby’s cues and figuring out what works for mom and baby. It gets easier over time. Remember: breast milk is gold.”

This study compared breastfeeding rates between newborns in the LAC+ USC Medical Center Newborn Nursery from January 2019 to April 2021. The researchers considered all newborns born before April 2020 to be babies pre-COVID, comparing breastfeeding rates and trends against infants born during the pandemic. The study found that there was a decrease in breastfeeding across all demographic groups studied. Hospital staff and access to breastfeeding education and other health care due to pandemic-related restrictions were potential causes for the decline in breastfeeding.

“Although a task force was set up in our nursery immediately following this study to bring breastfeeding rates back to normal for our communities, many mothers and newborns missed the opportunity to benefit from the effects. breastfeeding during the pandemic,” said Dr Yeh.

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Material provided by American Academy of Pediatrics. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.