Separation of COVID-infected mothers from babies has a negative effect on breastfeeding

It may be safe for COVID-infected mothers to maintain contact with their babies. Keeping them apart can cause maternal distress and have a negative effect on exclusive breastfeeding later in infancy, according to The COVID Mothers Study published in the peer-reviewed journal Breastfeeding Medicine.

In this worldwide study, infants who did not directly breastfeed, experience skin-to-skin care, or who did not room-in within arms' reach of their mothers were less likely to be exclusively breastfed in the first 3 months of life. Nearly 60% of mothers who experienced separation reported feeling very distressed, and 78% reported at least moderate distress. Nearly 1/3 of separated mothers (29%) were unable to breastfeed once reunited with their infants, despite trying.

"Our research contributes to the emerging evidence that skin-to-skin care, rooming-in within arms' reach, and direct breastfeeding may be safe for mothers infected with SARS-CoV-2," said Melissa Bartick, MD, Mount Auburn Hospital, and coauthors.

This report strengthens the recommendation that breastfeeding should be continued to be encouraged and supported in this era of the COVID-19 pandemic and that direct breastfeeding is indicated for mothers infected with SARS-CoV-2."

Arthur I. Eidelman, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Breastfeeding Medicine

Source:
Journal reference:

Bartick, M.C., et al. (2021) Maternal and Infant Outcomes Associated with Maternity Practices Related to COVID-19: The COVID Mothers Study. Breastfeeding Medicine. doi.org/10.1089/bfm.2020.0353.

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