Mother breastfeeding

Regent’s academics explore breastfeeding experiences during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has hugely impacted people’s psychological and physical wellbeing. Still, the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on mothers of young children, with particular regard to breastfeeding, are unknown. 

Regent’s Assistant Professor, researcher, and child psychologist Dr Cristina Costantini; Lecturer in Psychology, Dr Anna Joyce; and Psychology Lab Technician, Yolanda Britez, have conducted research into breastfeeding experiences during the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK.  

Their study, entitled Breastfeeding Experiences During the COVID-19 Lockdown in the United Kingdom: An Exploratory Study Into Maternal Opinions and Emotional States has been published in the Journal of Human Lactation.   

The main aim of the study was to explore: 

  • Sources of advice and support available to breastfeeding mothers during and prior to the COVID-19 lockdown.  
  • Mothers’ opinions on statements and recommendations made by the WHO on the importance of breastfeeding and breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Maternal emotional states (i.e., anxiety and depression symptoms) experienced by breastfeeding mothers during the COVID-19 lockdown. 
  • The influence of breastfeeding duration and number of children on breastfeeding opinions and emotional states. 

It was predicted that sources of support used by mothers would change as a result of the pandemic, and that breastfeeding opinions and emotional states would vary depending on the duration of breastfeeding and number of children in the family. 

The authors commented: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people’s lives and well-being world-wide. We knew very little about the impact that the COVID-19 lockdown had on mothers in the UK, with particular regard to breastfeeding support and maternal opinions. As such, our study meant to explore breastfeeding mothers' experience and viewpoints on WHO guidelines, and psychological well-being (i.e., anxiety and depression levels).’  

‘Mothers understand the benefits of breastfeeding but advice and guidelines during the pandemic have been limited and inconsistent, leading to confusion over best practice. We suggest that health professionals take into consideration mothers’ needs and wants and ensure that they are aware of the range of support available. Support is urgently needed, especially for mothers with more than one child.’ 

Read the full research paper here.