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Breastfeeding in the pandemic: A qualitative analysis of breastfeeding experiences among mothers from Canada and the United Kingdom
Women and Birth, Volume: 36, Issue: 4, Pages: e388 - e396
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Background: Previous research shows that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in both barriers and facilitators to breastfeeding. However, little research has looked specifically at first-time mothers’ experiences of breastfeeding during the pandemic or compared experiences of mothers living in different...
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Background: Previous research shows that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in both barriers and facilitators to breastfeeding. However, little research has looked specifically at first-time mothers’ experiences of breastfeeding during the pandemic or compared experiences of mothers living in different countries. Aim: This research explores mothers’ breastfeeding experiences to describe how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected breastfeeding journeys in Canada and the United Kingdom. Methods: Ten semi-structured online interviews were undertaken with first-time mothers who breastfed their baby at least once during the COVID-19 pandemic and are living in Canada or the United Kingdom. Interview transcripts were coded inductively using thematic analysis. Findings: One overarching theme (all on mother) and four sub-themes were identified: 1) accessing and advocating for health care, 2) social support, 3) becoming a mother in isolation, and 4) breastfeeding baby. Similar themes were constructed for both countries. Discussion: Mothers reported that diminished health care and social support created challenges in their breastfeeding journey. Many mothers reported receiving virtual breastfeeding support, which was largely experienced as unhelpful. Some mothers reported fewer distractions from visitors and more one-on-one time with their infant, which helped them to establish breastfeeding and a strong mother-infant bond. Conclusion: In both Canada and the United Kingdom, new mothers need consistent, reliable health care and social support when breastfeeding. This study supports the need to protect breastfeeding support in the midst of a global emergency and beyond to ensure positive breastfeeding experiences for both mother and baby.
Breastfeeding; Lactation; COVID-19; Breastfeeding support; Peer support; Health professional
Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
We acknowledge grant funding from the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation, administered by the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation, to conduct this research. Swansea University.