Narrative Literature on Breastfeeding Counseling during COVID-19: A South African Case of Primary Healthcare

Mabitsela Hezekiel Mphasha1, *
1 Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics; University of Limpopo, Limpopo, South Africa

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© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics; University of Limpopo, Limpopo, South Africa; Tel: 06 5897 1490; E-mail:



Infant and young child feeding (IYCF) is vital to improve child survival and promote healthy growth and development. However, during the coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic, access to healthcare facilities or IYCF educational campaigns was limited since the focus was on managing the pandemic. Skin-to-skin contact between mother and child is the core of IYCF guidelines, yet COVID-19 regulations encourage social distancing and separation. The aim of this review was to describe challenges and lessons drawn during the COVID-19 pandemic in the delivery or promotion of IYCF.


This is a narrative literature review, which does not require seeking any ethical approvals. Publications related to the stated key search items, written in English, were included in this review study. Data was sourced from various sources, such as Scopus/Elsevier, ScienceDirect, and PubMed databases, as well as World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Funds. Search items used included IYCF promotion and services during COVID-19.


A total of 43 publications were included in this review. Findings of the literature showed that there were fears of mother-to-child transmission of COVID-19 and poor feeding practices. The use of IYCF services was also limited.


For future COVID-19 waves and similar pandemics, the social distancing and separation of mother to child should not occur since there is minimal risk of transmission of COVID. Therefore, skin-to-skin contact and overall breastfeeding should be promoted. The IYCF guidelines should be reviewed to focus on personal hygiene practices, such as routine soap use and disinfecting of food preparation areas.

Keywords: Infant and young child feeding, COVID-19, Skin-to-skin contact, Social distancing, Separation, Fear of transmission.