BFHI: has Covid-19 affected breastfeeding promotion and support practices?
I am a medical doctor, with a specialization in pediatrics, a Masters degree in Public Health and Nutrition from the University of California in Berkeley, and a PhD from the University of Valencia, Spain.
I have devoted more than 20 years now to breastfeeding Medicine and I am a member of ILCA and the ABM for many years now. I have been member of the Breastfeeding Committe of the Spanish Pediatric Association and its national coordinator from 2009 to 2012.
In 2013, I became the National Coordinator of IHAN (the association for the Humanization of Birth Assistance and Breastfeeding Protection) which is the Association that runs the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and the Baby Friendly Community Initiative in Spain. I have represented Spain in the BFHI Network and I am currently a member of the Coordinating Committee, External Relations and Internal Relations Committee of this Network. All these being voluntary work, my present job is as the Director of the first Breastfeeding Clinic in the Spanish National Health care service, which is located in Valencia.
I am the proud mother of two breastfed children and one breastfed granddaughter.
Mothers, families and professionals faced extraordinary challenges that differed depending on resources and local considerations during the COVID Pandemic. Isolation measures, fear and other issues menaced in many countries, the important quality of perinatal care and breastfeeding support measures that BFHI hospitals offer. Though WHO recommendations regarding perinatal care and breastfeeding support for mothers and families during the Pandemic were published early, these recommendations were not followed everywhere. In some countries, fear for possible mother and/or infant exposure or for professional's exposure might precluded mother-infant closeness and skin-to-skin contact. Direct breastfeeding was not recommended by some health authorities in some countries or in some regions. With the endorsement of the BFHI Network Coordinating Committee I designed and conducted a survey among the members of the BFHI Network. The survey was meant to collect information about how the Pandemic had been faced in different settings/countries. The objective was to learn how to move forward and how to improve the way we fought the pandemic in the perinatal area and protected mothers and infants, while preserving humanization and quality of care in the near future and for other pandemics that might come. The objective of this talk is to share the results of this Survey.