Paper Authors and Title

Lucy Murphy (Technological University Dublin), Aileen Kennedy, Liz O’Sullivan, Lorraine Tham, “A Qualitative Analysis on the Impact of Changes due to the COVID-19 Pandemic on Infant Feeding Supports: The Experience of Healthcare Professionals Working in Ireland”



Breastfeeding is considered essential in protecting infants in emergency situations. Supports for infant feeding are essential to encourage mothers to exclusively breastfeed. The COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread disruption to infant feeding support services in Ireland. This study aims to look at how the changes in healthcare operations and the delivery of care by health care professionals(HCPs) during the COVID-19 pandemic affected infant feeding support, based on the experience of HCPs.


A qualitative analysis based on 13 semi-structured interviews of HCPs working in infant feeding from the greater Dublin area was conducted. Data was analysed using the ‘six-step Thematic Analysis Framework’ developed by Braun and Clarke allowing for the development of themes and sub-themes.


Three main themes were developed through the analysis of the data. (1) HCPs reported changes to the provision of services which impacted the quality of support women received. (2) They reported that mothers felt isolated, as a result of separation from their families and lack of support once they left the hospital. (3) The HCPs reported suffering with issues such as low staffing levels and coping with taking a ‘hands off’ approach to supporting mothers. These factors influenced the support they were able to provide..


These findings show the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the delivery of infant and young child feeding (IYCF) services, which impacted both the staff and families during this time. This shows the need to develop a comprehensive IYCF in Emergencies Plan in Ireland to ensure better preparedness for future emergencies.


Download and view Lucy Murphy’s poster.