Changes in Breastfeeding and Lactation Support Experiences during COVID

Maria Deyoreo, Kandice Kapinos, Rebecca Lawrence, Gabriela Alvarado, Molly Waymouth, Jill Radtke Demirci, Lori Uscher-Pines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: We surveyed parents who gave birth from 2019 to 2021 to examine changes in breastfeeding experiences and professional and lay breastfeeding support services due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We also examined racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding support. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional opt-in survey of 1,617 parents was administered on Ovia's parenting app in January 2022. Respondents were 18-45 years of age and delivered in one of three birth cohorts: August-December 2019, March-May 2020, or June-August 2021. We fit linear and logistic regression models wherein the outcomes were six breastfeeding support and experience measures, adjusting for birth cohort and respondent demographics. Results: Parents who gave birth in the early pandemic versus those in the prepandemic had reduced odds of interacting with lactation consultants (odds ratio [OR]: 0.63; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.44-0.90), attending breastfeeding classes (OR: 0.71; 95% CI: 0.54-0.94), meeting breastfeeding goals (OR: 0.65; 95% CI: 0.46-0.92), and reporting it was easy to get breastfeeding help (estimate:-0.36; 95% CI:-0.55 to-0.17). Birth cohort was not associated with use of donor milk or receipt of in-hospital help. The later pandemic cohort differed from the prepandemic cohort for one outcome: They were less likely to meet their breastfeeding goals (OR: 0.67; 95% CI: 0.48-0.95). There were racial and ethnic disparities in the use of multiple types of breastfeeding support. Although one-Third of respondents felt that the pandemic facilitated breastfeeding because of more time at home, 18% felt the pandemic posed additional challenges including disruptions to lactation support. Conclusions: Parents who gave birth in the later pandemic did not report significant disruptions to professional breastfeeding support, likely as a result of the growth of virtual services. However, disparities in receipt of support require policy attention and action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-160
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023


  • COVID-19
  • breastfeeding support
  • lactation support
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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