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Wellbeing of breastfeeding women in Australia and New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study

Sakalidis, V.S., Rea, A., Perrella, S.L., McEachran, J., Collis, G., Miraudo, J., Prosser, S.A., Gibson, L.Y., Silva, D. and Geddes, D.T. (2021) Wellbeing of breastfeeding women in Australia and New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study. Nutrients, 13 (6). Article 1831.

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, breastfeeding women have experienced restricted access to support, placing them at increased risk of mental health concerns and limited breastfeeding assistance. This study investigated the effect of the pandemic on feeding choices and maternal wellbeing amongst breastfeeding mothers living in Australian and New Zealand. We conducted a cross-sectional online survey that examined feeding methods, maternal mental wellbeing, worries, challenges, and positive experiences during the pandemic. Most women were exclusively breastfeeding (82%). Partial breastfeeding was associated with perceived low milk supply and longer pregnancy duration during the pandemic. Reduced mental health and wellbeing was associated with lower levels of family functioning, increased perceived stress, and perinatal anxiety. Longer pregnancy duration during the pandemic was associated with lower mental health wellbeing scores, while higher perceived stress scores were reported for regions with higher COVID-19 infection rates and women with perceived low milk supply. Women reported that the pandemic resulted in less pressure and more time for family bonding, while worries about the pandemic, family health, and parenting challenges were also cited. Mental health concerns of breastfeeding women appear to be exacerbated by COVID-19, highlighting a critical need for access to mental health and broader family support during the pandemic.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Mathematics, Statistics, Chemistry and Physics
Publisher: MDPI
Copyright: © 2021 by the authors
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
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