Supporting Breastfeeding: How Covid has Impacted Breastfeeding Families.
By Ivy Bagley
As we celebrate World Breastfeeding Month, I thought it would be a good time to look at the new ways we are offering community support to our families.
Prior to Covid19, most breastfeeding moms may have sought out an online support group, but they often met in homes, groups or at local hospitals. The pandemic greatly changed the resources for breastfeeding families. Most in person events were cancelled, many group meetings either were cancelled or went virtual. As a local lactation consultant, the challenge to meet parent’s needs was necessary if we were to continue to see successful breastfeeding stories. With less community resources involved, where were moms to go for assistance?
Online. Many moms already had a good connection to breastfeeding support pages from all over the world. However, many did not have a local online breastfeeding support group that was holding regular meetings, or many new moms did not know where to seek help.
Our online breastfeeding support group has been active for a while. However, it became clear we needed to change our focus. Breastfeeding 101, Baby Care Classes and online support groups were created and launched. Although meeting through zoom Is different; we are reaching moms who need support. Surprisingly, women welcomed this new form of support and are being successful in their breastfeeding journeys.
Although we still need to see families in the office, sometimes telehealth provides an avenue for breastfeeding mothers to connect with an IBCLC and never leave home. I have utilized telehealth for many years, Covid19 has increased our opportunity to reach more mothers. I foresee this change being welcomed by more and more moms in the coming years. However: I do anticipate meeting in person will still be a welcomed break from the virtual world.
How can we, as a society, support breastfeeding moms in the coming months? First and foremost, offer moms education on local resources. Share support group information, classes, and events on your own social media or through direct messaging with moms who have asked for support. Offer to help a new mom with zoom if she wishes to attend and does not have the resources to do so. Call or text a breastfeeding family, check on mom- does she just need someone to listen to her concerns? Maybe she needs to hear reassurance. In a time when moms may feel isolated, sometimes a simple phone call makes a huge difference.
Ultimately, during COVID19 we need to continue to seek creative ways to reach our breastfeeding families and make certain they realize- “hey you are not alone on this journey.”