Photo by Dave Clubb on Unsplash

Particularly apt in this tough times, World Breastfeeding Week falls in a time where mothers have had to deal with all the standard challenges as well as some new ones due to the current pandemic.

World Breastfeeding Week

In time for World Breastfeeding Week, 1-7 August, Western Sydney University’s experts have some thoughts on a range of issues related to infant feeding. With a focus on how COVID has affected new mothers, expert in infant feeding, associate Professor Gribble highlights that during these difficult times, many new mums have heightened concerns about the wellbeing of their babies.

“When you have a baby, you’re meant to have people around you to provide support. During the COVID-19 pandemic, new mums are being deprived of contact with health professionals, friends and family, and even their own mothers,” she said.

Baby formula forgotten

Concerns about access to formula have been paramount throughout the pandemic. Whilst panic buying in the media was focussed on toilet paper and pantry staples, baby formula was left forgotten. Professor Gribble offers further comment on this issue.

“Mums are concerned about contracting the virus, and are considering breastfeeding as a means of boosting their overall health and immunity. They are also concerned about the availability of formula, and are considering the practical value of breastfeeding while they are in lockdown.”

Breast feeding benefits

Dr Elaine Burns, School of Nursing and Midwifery, is an expert in models of support for breastfeeding women and creating enabling environments for breastfeeding.

“In Australia, there are a number of barriers and challenges that impede some women from exclusively breastfeeding,” said Dr Burns.

“Breastfeeding prevents disease, improves population health, is environmentally friendly, carbon neutral, and a renewable resource that creates zero waste – so it’s imperative that more targeted programs are established, to support women and improve the rates of breastfeeding.”

Social media impact on breastfeeding mothers

The influence of online communities for breastfeeding mothers can be extremely positive. Social media communities offer value in their support network, especially in a time where breastfeeding mothers cannot be together directly.

Dr Nicole Bridges, is an expert in breastfeeding peer support on social media.

“Peer support is important for many women throughout their breastfeeding journey,” said Dr Bridges.

“In the social media age, women are no longer dependent on family and friends, or physical mother’s groups. They are able to find the support, encouragement and reassurance they need online.

“One popular means of acquiring a support network, is through closed Facebook groups. In these groups, women are able to post pictures, raise questions, and discuss in detail their individual experiences of breastfeeding, and connect with other mums.

So, let’s show our support for World Breastfeeding Week and reach out to any mum we know going through this during these crazy times. Stay safe, everyone.