Tuesday, September 21

More mastitis, low birth weight and more online consultations: this is how the pandemic has affected breastfeeding

In 2020, visits to mastitis and low birth weight in newborns increased. Doubts about relactation also rose, after mothers and babies were separated in many hospitals, making it difficult to establish breastfeeding. In general, online consultations on this topic increased, as confinement and sanitary measures negatively affected breastfeeding.

These are data from the LactApp 2020 Lactation Report, the leading app in this field, which has just been presented coinciding with World Breastfeeding Week. The study, carried out with data from its users, also includes references to different international research. Its results will be presented at the Ministry of Equality in September.

“Some hospitals separated mothers and babies in the immediate postpartum and put obstacles to the beginning of breastfeeding in the case of positive mothers. The entry of companions was prohibited during visits, hospital discharges after delivery were accelerated, medical consultations of postpartum follow-up became virtual or telephone and the face-to-face breastfeeding groups closed “, the report states.

And he continues: “Due to the difficulty of accessing face-to-face care, in 2020 online consultations about mastitis increased by 31% and those of low weight in newborns by 11.6%. Consultations about relactation rose by 132.8% , given the need to restore milk production after being interrupted, as happened after the separations of mothers and babies in the immediate postpartum period at the beginning of the pandemic. With face-to-face breastfeeding groups closed, online questions rose 103.7% on breastfeeding techniques, such as correct position and latch, “explains the document.

Another of the data that the report points out is the increase in doubts from health care women and other essential workers, concerned about the compatibility of their work with breastfeeding. And it dedicates a specific section to perinatal mental health in a pandemic, citing international studies carried out in Spain, China, the United States and Canada that show an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety in pregnant and postpartum women.

The midwife Laia Aguilar, head of research at LactApp and one of the authors of the study, explains the importance of carrying out this type of research: “We have detected a general trend of increased consultations, increased mastitis and more low weight problems in newborns, among others, whose relationship with the lack of health care is evident. So the challenge for professionals is to investigate how practices around breastfeeding should be adapted so that those women who want to practice it have the necessary tools to do it ”, he assures.

Vaccination, a challenge

The study also pays special attention to vaccination against the coronavirus, which raised many initial doubts about its compatibility with pregnancy and breastfeeding. Throughout 2021 the official recommendations have been unified, all showing favorable to the vaccination of women who breastfeed. And even pointing to a transfer of antibodies through breast milk. But at first the matter was not so clear and many pregnant and lactating women delayed the vaccine or were forced to an unwanted weaning.

“The fact that lactating and pregnant women have not been taken into account in clinical studies prior to the approval of vaccines is a clear example of the limited gender perspective of science,” denounces Laia Aguilar. And defends the importance of research in this area: “We have to put an end to this research bias so that all women can make decisions about their health, also in breastfeeding, based on reliable and rigorous information,” she concludes.