Protecting Human Milk & Breastfeeding in a COVID-19 World & Beyond

Thursday, 4th February 2021

The global COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on healthcare systems and hospital staffing and care. The healthcare focus has been on the care of those individuals diagnosed with the virus and requiring intensive care, the prevention of further spread of the virus, and vaccine development. However, through all this, families have continued on their reproductive journeys. There is evidence that care of childbearing families has been de-prioritized, with healthcare resources being deployed instead to focus on the care of COVID-19 positive patients and the mitigation of transmission, often at the expense of existing healthcare programs. Furthermore, birth and breastfeeding experiences and care have been disrupted for all mothers, even if they are not COVID-19 positive or a Person Under Investigation. This has led to mothers reporting stress and anxiety related to pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding as a result of the pandemic.


We are concerned that these massive changes in the care of childbearing families are going to be permanently adopted. This pandemic will also likely cause the disparities in breastfeeding to widen. Families with the most knowledge and most resources may be able to navigate the current landscape. However, for those families without a strong breastfeeding culture, family network, and financial resources, navigation of breastfeeding challenges will likely result in the mother discontinuing breastfeeding early. 

We must use the pandemic to underscore the importance of human milk and breastfeeding as lifesaving medical interventions. The current prenatal and post-birth practice paradigms need to be drastically changed to protect lactation physiology and to ensure that all families in need receive equal access to evidence-based lactation education, care and technical assistance.


Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN


Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN is a Professor of Perinatal Nursing & the Helen M. Shearer Professor of Nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing sharing a joint appointment as a nurse researcher and director of the lactation program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the clinical coordinator of the CHOP Mothers’ Milk Bank.

Dr. Spatz is an active researcher, clinician, and educator who is internationally recognized for her work surrounding the use of human milk and breastfeeding particularly in vulnerable populations. Dr. Spatz has been PI or co-investigator on over 40 research grants, included several from the NIH.  She has authored and co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications and written numerous book chapters related to human milk and breastfeeding. Dr. Spatz has authored or co-authored position statements for the International Lactation Consultant Association, the Association of Women’s Health Obstetric & Neonatal Nursing (AWHONN), the Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN) and the National Association of Neonatal Nurses. She has also written the clinical practice guidelines on human milk and breastfeeding for AHWONN and SPN as well as a technical brief for the USAID on human milk and breastfeeding in developing countries.

In 2004, Dr. Spatz develop her 10 step model for human milk and breastfeeding in vulnerable infants.  This model has been implemented in NICUs throughout the United States and other countries worldwide (Thailand, India, China, Mexico, Japan). Dr. Spatz has been named a prestigious “Edge Runner” for the American Academy of Nursing related to the development and outcomes of her model.  Her nurse driven models of care are critical in improving human milk & breastfeeding outcomes and thus the health of women and children globally.

Dr. Spatz is also the recipient of numerous awards including: the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Research Utilization Award from Sigma Theta Tau International and from the University of Pennsylvania:  the Dean’s Award for Exemplary Professional Practice, the Expert Alumni Award and the Family and Community Department’s Academic Practice Award   She is also the recipient of the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. Dr. Spatz received the Distinguished Lang Award for her impact on scholarship, policy & practice.

In the university portion of her job, she teaches an entire semester course on breastfeeding and human lactation to undergraduate nursing students and in the hospital portion of her job, she developed the Breastfeeding Resource Nurse program.  Dr. Spatz is Immediate Past Chair of the American Academy of Nursing’s Expert Panel on Breastfeeding and their representative to the United States Breastfeeding Committee.  Dr. Spatz is also a member of the International Society for Researchers in Human Milk & Lactation.

Lars Bode

Dr. Bode’s laboratory focuses on human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), a group of complex sugar molecules that represent the third most abundant component of human milk after lactose and lipids. The goal of Dr. Bode’s research is to understand how HMOs are synthesized in the human mammary gland and how they benefit the breast-fed infant and potentially also the breastfeeding mother.

The laboratory employs a multidisciplinary collaborative research approach that combines preclinical studies and human cohort and intervention studies with the goal to identify structure-function relationships in a variety of clinical contexts related to maternal and infant health. The team has developed tools for rapid high-throughput HMO composition analysis and collaborates with partners from around the world to identify maternal actors that influence HMO composition and to link HMO composition to infant health and disease outcomes.

Today, as Director of MOMI CORE, Dr. Bode dedicates his research excellence, leadership and partnership building skills to accelerate and effectively translate human milk research into improved maternal and infant health, globally.


Event Details


  • 4 February 2021


  • 1 hour


  • 07:00 - 08:00, PDT, San Francisco
  • 09:00 - 10:00, CT, Chicago IL
  • 10:00 - 11:00, EDT, New York
  • 15:00 - 16:00, BST, London
  • 16:00 - 17:00, CET, Berlin
  • 17:00 - 18:00, MSK, Moscow
  • 18:00 - 19:00, GST, Dubai
  • 19:30 - 20:30, IST, Mumbai

This webinar is fee of charge