COVID and feeding your baby

If you're breastfeeding or expressing for your baby, you may be thinking about how coronavirus (COVID-19) might affect you and your baby.

The good news is there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be passed on to your baby in breast milk, and the benefits of breastfeeding and the protection it offers outweigh any possible risks.

Even if you have been diagnosed with or are suspected to have COVID-19, you’re encouraged to continue breastfeeding with some precautions in place, including:

  • Handwashing prior to touching the baby, breast pump or bottles
  • Wearing a mask whilst feeding and holding the baby
  • Following guidelines for cleaning/sterilisation of bottles and breast pump if you are using.

If you are too unwell to breastfeed, another option is to express regularly so that your baby keeps receiving your breastmilk.

If you are using infant formula, it should be a formula suitable for babies from birth to 12 months and careful attention should be paid to the directions to prepare. Cleaning and sterilising all equipment is very important when expressing or using formula.   

Breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact continue to be encouraged for all women and babies at the Women’s, regardless of how they are feeding or COVID diagnosis.

Like any other period where there is increased risk of illness, such as flu season, it’s important for everyone to practise good hygiene at all times – see Tips to reduce your risk – and to get tested as soon as any symptoms emerge.

COVID-19 vaccination

The Australian Government has released a decision guide if you are considering COVID-19 vaccination and you are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy.

While breastfeeding women were excluded from COVID-19 vaccine studies, based on what is known about similar vaccines being safe with breastfeeding, the government guide recommends that if you are breastfeeding you can receive the Pfizer vaccine at any time.

The Pfizer vaccine does not contain any live virus and is rapidly broken down in the body. If any vaccine does pass into breastmilk it would be quickly destroyed in your baby’s gut after they have been fed.

You do not need to stop breastfeeding before or after vaccination.

You can download and read the guide here and discuss with your General Practitioner, midwife or maternal and child health nurse.   

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