Health COVID-19 leads to a baby boom in breastfeeding

COVID-19 leads to a baby boom in breastfeeding

A Western Sydney University expert in infant feeding during emergencies has observed an upswing in breastfeeding during the pandemic, as well as a higher number of new mothers asking for advice.

Adjunct Associate Professor Karleen Gribble, from the university’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, said the COVID-19 health crisis has led women to continue breastfeeding for longer, or even restarting breastfeeding after they had weaned.

“During these difficult times, it’s understandable for mums to be concerned about the wellbeing of their babies,” Associate Professor Gribble said.

Associate Professor Gribble is also a community educator with the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), which supports breastfeeding mothers.

In April 2020, the ABA’S National Breastfeeding Helpline received almost 17 per cent more calls than its usual monthly average, with the average call length also increasing.

The findings showed those that called were concerned about many aspects of breastfeeding relating to COVID-19.

Out of every five calls, two were about worries to do with insufficient milk or inadequate weight gain.

“You’re meant to have people around you to provide support when you have a baby – but women are being deprived of contact with health professionals, friends and family, and even their own mothers after they give birth,” Associate Professor Gribble said.

“We need to support these new mums in any way that we can.”

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