Campaign highlights importance of breastfeeding support during COVID-19

When the global COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold, the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) moved its support services, including breastfeeding education classes and local support groups, online.

Now, the country’s peak body for breastfeeding has launched a new support campaign, ABA is here for you, to continue helping families and mothers struggling to access the help they need amid coronavirus restrictions and border closures.

Throughout COVID-19, the ABA has provided increased support for pregnant women and new parents suddenly left without their usual support networks due to social distancing restrictions, including the closure of antenatal and postnatal services back in March.

At the start of the pandemic, ABA shifted all of its breastfeeding support services online to allow parents to continue to access support.

The number of families calling its Breastfeeding Helpline as COVID-19 unfolded increased considerably, with 6,103 calls received in April, a 20% increase compared to the monthly average.

Tasmanian mother Megan Nayler, whose daughter Lumi was born in June, had to cancel her baby shower and begin isolation with her husband from mid-March.

Following Lumi’s birth, Ms Nayler began accessing support from ABA, which she says allowed her to carry on breastfeeding her daughter through the challenges of COVID-19.

“It’s scary to have a baby during a pandemic,” she recalls.

“You have a perception in your mind of what pregnancy and having your first baby will feel like and it was so different to that.

“I was so overwhelmed by it all, with no one but my husband able to visit us in hospital that I ended up leaving the hospital on day two, much earlier than I’d anticipated.”

Ms Nayler experienced a few issues with breastfeeding and was referred to ABA by her mother-in-law, with the organisation offering her much needed support, both mentally and physically, so that she could breastfeed.

“It was a lifesaver. I can guarantee without Rosalie (my mother-in-law) and ABA I would not be still breastfeeding.

“I had always felt that breastfeeding was something I wanted to do for my children, for all the health benefits for both Lumi and me. There are so many benefits I hadn’t even thought of, not to mention the emotional bond it creates between us. I wanted to make be sure that Lumi got off to a great start. I’m her source of food, comfort, security and health.”

Naomi Hull, ABA Senior Manager Breastfeeding Information and Research, says stories like Ms Nayler’s have been common during the pandemic.

She says ABA’s new campaign, ABA is here for you, is committed to supporting mothers and families, wherever they are in their journey, as the nation emerges out of the crisis and adapts to the new normal.

Breastfeeding support services have never been as important, Ms Hull says, with the usual time of stress, change and uncertainty that comes from having a baby intensified during the pandemic.

“Mums with newborns – sometimes just days old – have been able to connect with other parents through our online services at a time when they were otherwise completely isolated.”

For more information about the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s support services click here

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