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The impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the experiences and feeding practices of new mothers in the UK: Preliminary data from the COVID-19 New Mum Study

Vazquez-Vazquez, A; Dib, S; Rougeaux, E; Wells, JC; Fewtrell, MS; (2020) The impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the experiences and feeding practices of new mothers in the UK: Preliminary data from the COVID-19 New Mum Study. Appetite , Article 104985. 10.1016/j.appet.2020.104985. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 New Mum Study is recording maternal experiences and infant feeding during the UK lockdown. This report from week 1 of the survey describes and compares the delivery and post-natal experiences of women who delivered before (BL) versus during (DL) the lockdown. METHODS: Women living in the UK aged ≥18 years with an infant ≤12 months of age completed an anonymous online survey (https://is.gd/covid19newmumstudy). Information/links are shared via websites, social media and existing contacts. RESULTS: From 27.5 to 20-3.6.20, 1365 women provided data (94% white, 95% married/with partner, 66% degree/higher qualification, 86% living in house; 1049 (77%) delivered BL and 316 (23%) DL. Delivery mode, skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding initiation did not differ between groups. DL women had shorter hospital stays (p < 0.001). 39% reported changes to their birth plan. Reflecting younger infant age, 59% of DL infants were exclusively breast-fed/mixed fed versus 39% of BL (p < 0.05). 13% reported a change in feeding; often related to lack of breastfeeding support, especially with practical problems. Important sources of feeding support were the partner (60%), health professional (50%) and online groups (47%). 45% of DL women reported insufficient feeding support. Among BL women, 57% and 69% reported decreased feeding support and childcare, respectively. 40% BL/45% DL women reported insufficient support with their own health, 8%/9% contacted a mental health professional; 11% reported their mental health was affected. 9% highlighted lack of contact/support from family and distress that they had missed seeing the baby. CONCLUSION: Lockdown has impacted maternal experiences, resulting in distress for many women. Our findings suggest the need for better infant feeding support, especially 'face-to-face' support for practical issues; and recognising and supporting mothers who are struggling with mental health challenges or other aspects of their health. The effectiveness of online versus face-to-face contact is currently uncertain, and requires further evaluation.

Type: Article
Title: The impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the experiences and feeding practices of new mothers in the UK: Preliminary data from the COVID-19 New Mum Study
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2020.104985
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2020.104985
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: Birth, Breastfeeding, Covid-19, Infant feeding, Lockdown, Mental health, Mother, Social support
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Population, Policy and Practice Dept
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10112717
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