Prevalence of breastfeeding and birth practices during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic within the Italian Baby- Friendly Hospital network. What have we learned?

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Abstract

Background. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers were faced with difficult decisions about maternity care practices. The evidence-based practices recommended by the WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) were confirmed by Italian national guidance.
Aim. To describe, in a number of facilities that are part of a national Baby-Friendly network, the adherence to some steps of BFHI standards during the COVID-19 emergency.
Methods. We conducted a cross-sectional online survey, inviting all hospitals interested in the Initiative, to fill out a semi-structured questionnaire.
Results. Out of the 68 participating hospitals, 30.9% were hubs and 69.1% spokes. During May 2020, 61.8% of hospitals had COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 clinical pathways, while 38.8% were only non-COVID-19. None was dedicated exclusively to COVID-19 pathways. The BFHI was effective in guaranteeing ≥80% exclusive breastfeeding, the presence of companion of mother’s choice, skin-to-skin and rooming-in. The type of accreditation was associated with the presence of a companion of the mother’s choice during labour (p=0.022) and with skin-to-skin (p<0.001). According to the narratives, increased interpersonal distance made interactions with mothers difficult and the absence of a birth companion was reported as a major issue.
Discussion and conclusions. The BFHI is a highly-structured, evidence-based care
model. Investing in strong collaborative care approaches contributes to hospitals’ preparedness.

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Authors

Angela Giusti - National Centre for diseases Prevention and Health Promotion – Italian National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8695-7847

Elise M. Chapin - Italian National Committee for UNICEF, Italy https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8286-3173

Stefania Spila Alegiani - National Center for Drug Research and Evaluation (CNRVF) Unit of Pharmacoepidemiology, Rome, Italy https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0656-1346

Francesca Marchetti - National Centre for diseases Prevention and Health Promotion – Italian National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy

Stefania Sani - Italian National Committee for UNICEF, Italy

Jessica Preziosi - National Centre for diseases Prevention and Health Promotion – Italian National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy

Sofia Colaceci - Saint Camillus International University of Health and Medical Sciences (UniCamillus), Rome, Italy https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2114-0948

Francesca Zambri - National Centre for diseases Prevention and Health Promotion – Italian National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4663-5362

How to Cite
Giusti, A., Chapin, E. M., Spila Alegiani, S., Marchetti, F., Sani, S., Preziosi, J., Colaceci, S., & Zambri, F. (2022). Prevalence of breastfeeding and birth practices during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic within the Italian Baby- Friendly Hospital network. What have we learned?. Annali dell’Istituto Superiore Di Sanità, 58(2), 100-108. Retrieved from https://annali.iss.it/index.php/anna/article/view/1439
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