The Infant Microbiome COVID-19 Project

Earlier this week, I had an idea to write an article about how local maternity and infant feeding services have changed in response to COVID-19.

I asked people our community on Facebook to share some of their experiences.

To be frank, I was shocked by some of the responses.

“In US we are separating babies from mom right after birth if PUI or positive, no interaction at all. Moms can not do skin to skin, can not breastfeed. All pending swab results which can take up to 5 days. Babies can not go home with Mom if positive. This is heartbreaking as a nurse, CLC. Goes against every reason I loved my job. I can’t imagine the PPD/trauma this is going to cause moms and babies” 

I was also heartened by reports of real humanity in these difficult and troubling times.

“Hospital staff are treating people with the utmost care and respect from what I’m hearing. They are dealing with a challenging situation and make every effort to ensure patients are as comfortable as possible” 

Now I see this is a bigger project. Huge changes have happened fast. New protocols have been implemented.

Many of these emergency measures will hugely affect mothers and babies. These changes are likely to affect the development of the infant microbiome, particularly the optimal training of the infant immune system.

This could have major implications for future health. (**For more on this, see our free course on the science of breast milk)

Yesterday we started The Infant Microbiome COVID-19 Project. This is a brand new completely independent project — created and funded by ourselves.

If you can, we would love YOU to tell us how birth and infant feeding policies and practices have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic where you live. This information will hopefully become a useful tool or resource to benefit the next generation.

This is completely voluntary. If you can complete the form, that would be wonderful. But no pressure. And it would be amazing if you could share the form with your network.

We will collate all responses to produce a special report which will freely available in May within our Microbirth School (Microbiome Courses):

To collect responses, we have created a simple GOOGLE FORM (see the end of this article):

It should take about 3 minutes to complete.

1. Please help us by reporting changes you are seeing in your own part of the world.

2. This is not a place for judgement, for ranting or for guesswork.

3. The form asks for your name, location and job title, but you are welcome to stay anonymous.

4. Please do not share any confidential information. Be aware that what you write could be publicy accessible.

5. This is not intended as a rigorous scientific study. This crowd-sourced project is intended to create a global snapshot of changes to maternity and infant feeding practises happening right now.

6. We will collect responses until 30th April 2020.

Thanks so much for your help with this. Any suggestions on how to improve the form, please let us know!

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Toni Harman is the producer/director of the award-winning documentary MICROBIRTH and founder of MICROBIRTH SCHOOL (MICROBIOME COURSES) offering continuing education to health professionals on the infant microbiome.

To access our FREE CPD / CERP approved course on the science of breast milk (available until 30th April):