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Results Of The COVID Mothers Study

Editor’s Note: From time to time, LLL USA shares information about research studies relating to breastfeeding/chestfeeding/human milk feeding. The researcher agrees to provide the results of the study in a reader-friendly format so that we can share it with the community that participated. New Beginnings is pleased to publish this report from Dr. Bartick on a recent study. 


COVID Mothers Study imageThank you to everyone who participated in the COVID Mothers Study, which was published in Breastfeeding Medicine on Feb 10, 2021. We were looking at the effects of maternity care practices related to COVID-19 on infant and maternal outcomes. Our final sample had 357 mothers from 31 countries, mostly from the United States, Europe, and Latin America.

Our study had the following findings:

  • Infants who did not directly breastfeed, did not experience skin-to-skin care, or who did not room-in within arms’ reach, were less likely to be exclusively breastfed in the first three months.
  • Infants whose births were affected by COVID-19 were more likely to have been separated from their mothers at birth than infants whose births were not affected by COVID-19.
  • Nearly 60% of mothers who experienced separation reported feeling “very distressed.”
  • 29% of the mothers who tried to breastfeed were unable to do so once reunited with their infants.
  • The presence of maternal symptoms predicted infant transmission or symptoms among infants of all ages.

We did not find an increase in hospitalization among mothers who roomed in at arms’ reach, directly breastfeeding, or experienced uninterrupted skin-to-skin care. In fact, we found a decrease in the rate of hospitalization for these infants, but it was not statistically significant.

Our research contributes to the emerging evidence that skin-to-skin care, rooming-in within arms’ reach, and direct breastfeeding may be safe for mothers infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.  Furthermore, we concluded that disruption of evidence-based quality standards of maternity care is associated with harm and may be unnecessary.

We greatly appreciate all the mothers who participated in the survey, and all the people who referred mothers to us. We could not have done this valuable work without you!

For more information see:


Melissa Bartick, MD, MSc, FABM is an internist and Assistant Professor in Medicine at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts and at Harvard Medical School. She has authored numerous research publications mostly related to breastfeeding in peer-reviewed journals. She has held several state and national leadership positions including positions at the American Public Health Association, the United States Breastfeeding Committee, and currently serves on the Board of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. Dr. Bartick holds an MS from University of California, Berkeley and an MD from University of California, San Francisco. She works as a hospitalist where she treats COVID patients, and is pursuing an MPH at Harvard School of Public Health.

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