Woman's Hospital Sees Increased Breastfeeding Rates During COVID-19 Pandemic

August 05, 2020

Limited visitation having positive impact on health of new moms and babies

BATON ROUGE, La. -- During World Breastfeeding Week, recognized globally between Aug. 1-7, Woman’s Hospital is celebrating a recent increase in breastfeeding rates among its patients. Since limiting visitation due to COVID-19 concerns, breastfeeding rates at Woman’s have increased by 10% from January to April. The highest annual increase at Woman’s in the last five years was in 2016 at 4.3%. Annually, increases average between 2-4% every year.

While it is difficult to determine the exact cause of this increase, it reinforces research that a quiet and uninterrupted environment immediately after birth makes breastfeeding easier for mom and baby, reduces anxiety, promotes rest and gives parents a few precious days to start their bonding.

“In normal times, parents are often anxious to allow family members and visitors to meet the newest addition, but we’re finding that moms and newborns benefit more without immediate visitors,” said Dana Vidrine, director of mother/baby, lactation, and transition at Woman’s Hospital. “With the limited visitation policy, pressures to host family and friends are erased. This allows mom and baby to enjoy extended skin-to-skin contact that fosters successful breastfeeding.”

Additionally, nurses have noticed that patients are not being interrupted during feedings and are able to focus on lactation teachings. “I’ve noticed the women have more colostrum at delivery and in general seem to just do better with breastfeeding,” one mother/baby nurse explained. “I think they can actually relax and focus on their baby.”

Patients have also been responding positively to the increase in quality bonding time they have had with their babies while at the hospital. Comments from patients who have delivered during the pandemic include:

  • “This part really was the sweet spot amongst all the other madness going on. I wish I would have fought for the no visitors at the hospital more with my first. This golden time with our second alone in the hospital and our first week at home with no visitors was precious!”
  • I tell everyone that the best part about having a baby during this time was the lack of visitors. We got so much bonding time with our little guy right from the start without people in and out interrupting. It really was magical in the mayhem.

“The best gift you can give a new mom and newborn is the private time to get to know each other and start life off in the best environment possible,” said Cheri Johnson, senior vice president and chief nursing officer for Woman’s Hospital. “We will continue to track the benefits of reduced visitation and encourage families to remain socially distant, supporting mom and baby online through technologies such as Facetime and Zoom.”

Woman's Hospital is designated a Guided Infant Feeding Techniques (GIFT) hospital. The organization provides evidence-based practices to new moms about infant feeding and maternal and infant bonding. For more information or breastfeeding resources visit www.womans.org/breastfeeding.

Many factors impact whether or not moms are successful with their breastfeeding goals.
Learn more about how Woman's is helping new moms succeed through research.