Exploring the impact of restricted partners’ visiting policies on non-infected mothers’ mental health and breastfeeding rates during the covid-19 pandemic

Daniela Morniroli, Alessandra Consales, Lorenzo Colombo, Elena Nicoletta Bezze, Lidia Zanotta, Laura Plevani, Monica Fumagalli, Fabio Mosca, Maria Lorella Giannì

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Changes in perinatal care occurring during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may negatively affect mothers’ mental health and breastfeeding. This study, performed between April and May 2020, aimed to investigate the effect of restricted partners’ visiting policies on non-infected mother’s anxiety symptoms, the perceived postpartum support, and the breastfeeding outcomes at discharge. A cross-sectional study was conducted in a neonatal tertiary referral center in northern Italy during Italy’s lockdown. We enrolled mothers with a negative nasopharyngeal swab for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), adequate oral and written comprehension of the Italian language, and absence of underlying maternal or neonatal clinical conditions. Maternal anxiety levels were assessed through the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-Form Y (STAI-Y). Maternal perception of staff’s support was evaluated by the Nurse Parent Support Tool (NPST). A STATE-A (concurrent emotional state after a specific situation) score ≥ 40 was considered indicative of clinically significant symptoms of anxiety. A total of 109 mothers completed the study. Mean STATE-A score was ≥40 in 42% of mothers, and median NPST score was 4.23. Mothers separated from their partner had a mean STATE-A score ≥ 40 in a higher percentage of cases than those who were not (51% vs. 30%, p = 0.03) and a lower perception of caregiver support. A NPST score ≤ 4.23, partner ‘s absence during the hospital stay and primiparity were independently associated with a STATE-A score ≥ 40. Breastfeeding rates at discharge were not influenced by maternal anxiety levels and partner’s restricted policies. Instead, they were influenced by mode of delivery, a well-known risk factor, and pre-pandemic intention to breastfeed. Our study demonstrates the positive impact of a partner’s presence on maternal mental health and perception of caregiver support.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6347
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2 2021


  • Breastfeeding
  • COVID-19
  • Hospital policies
  • Maternal anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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