Woman looking at Mama Lab online hub on mobile device

(Halifax, NS) July 13, 2021 – Researchers at the Milk and Micronutrient Assessment (MAMA) Lab at Mount Saint Vincent University today launched an online learning hub of educational videos to share information about feeding infants during the first six months.

Designed for parents and the general public, the short videos and infographics featured in the hub cover topics such as peer-to-peer support for breastfeeding; tracking infant growth without a scale; breast milk supply; “extra hands”: how to support someone breastfeeding at home; overcoming guilt and shame; and formula feeding.

The videos are based on ‘lessons learned’ from parents during the first COVID-19 lockdown (spring 2020) and subsequent restrictions in Nova Scotia, but cover topics relevant to parents post-pandemic.

“Parents and caregivers of young infants are in need of current resources from reliable sources,” said Dr. Kyly Whitfield, Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Human Nutrition, and director of the MAMA Lab. “Through our new online learning hub, we’ve sought to address infant feeding topics that are of greatest concern, based on input from the parents themselves.”

Dr. Kyly Whitfield portrait photo
Dr. Kyly Whitfield

The MAMA Lab Learning Hub was created as a way of sharing findings from a survey of Nova Scotian caregivers conducted early in the COVID-19 pandemic (data collected in April and May 2020). Published earlier this year in the journal Maternal & Child Nutrition, this survey of over 300 parents of young infants in the Nova Scotia showcased feelings of stress and isolation, difficulty accessing support from family, friends, and healthcare providers, and some limited adverse infant feeding practices. However, some parents reported positive experiences such as more support from partners working from home during the pandemic. The MAMA Lab Learning Hub both raises awareness about the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on infant feeding and provides resources for caregivers.

“We found that parents’ pre-pandemic concerns about infant feeding were exacerbated by the provincial lock-downs,” said Dr. Whitfield. “For instance, we knew some breastfeeding moms worried about maintaining their milk supply before the pandemic, but these concerns intensified during lock-down. In those early days moms were pumping more to fill their freezers ‘just in case’. We’ve designed the Learning Hub videos to respond to the most common concerns from parents during lockdown, knowing that these videos can continue to provide useful information to parents beyond the pandemic.”

The MAMA Lab Learning Hub will be a living resource, with more videos to be added over time. Videos will be promoted weekly throughout July and August.

The hub will be promoted on the MAMA Lab’s social media sites (Facebook: @MAMALabMSVU; Instagram: @mama_lab_msvu; Twitter: @MAMALab_MSVU) and housed on the MAMA Lab’s resource website.

About the MAMA Lab
The Milk and Micronutrient Assessment Lab (MAMA Lab) is run by Dr. Kyly Whitfield and her team in the Department of Applied Human Nutrition at Mount Saint Vincent University. Dr. Whitfield is passionate about nutrition in the first 1,000 days, from conception to two years, and her research program aims to explore both the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of feeding during this time. A major focus of the MAMA Lab is to study infant feeding behaviours, and the potential long-term effects of early feeding on eating patterns and disease risk. They also seek to understand what the general public knows about infant feeding to better understand breastfeeding culture and feeding norms.

Contact the MAMA Lab at mama.lab@msvu.ca or (902) 943-5652.

We’re advancing research, scholarly work and professional activity. Learn more about this MSVU Strategic Plan Theme »