Breastfeeding during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Women should talk with their doctor or other health care provider about breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can use the information on this page to talk to your doctor about what is best for you and your baby.
For Healthy Women:
Breastfeeding is good for your baby.
Breast milk helps keep babies from getting sick.
If you are COVID-negative, usual birthing practices do not need to change. This includes delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin care, breastfeeding, and rooming in.
If you are breastfeeding now and want to make more milk, use the Minnesota WIC Directory to get help from WIC people near you.
If you are breastfeeding now and are thinking of stopping, you may want to keep breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Giving birth if you have COVID-19
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) answers frequently asked questions based on current guidance for the Management of Infants Born to Mothers with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 (December 1, 2021):
You can practice skin-to-skin care in the delivery room while wearing a mask.
Breast milk can protect new babies from infection.
You can stay in the same room with your healthy newborn after the birth, according to normal practice where you have your baby.
When you're not breastfeeding, maintain a reasonable distance from your baby when possible.
Always wash your hands well and wear a mask when breastfeeding and caring for your baby.
If you do not want to breastfeed your baby, you can express your breast milk, so someone who does not have COVID-19 can feed your baby. Always wear a mask and wash your hands well before you express your breast milk.
You do not need to leave the hospital early to lower the risk of COVID-19 infection. Leaving early may make it harder to get off to a good start breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding if you have COVID-19
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers Breastfeeding Guidance Post Hospital Discharge for Mothers or Infants with Suspected or Confirmed SARS-Co V-2 Infection (December 1, 2021).
Breast milk has antibodies that protect infants from infection. Breast milk is unlikely to give COVID-19 to infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly supports breastfeeding as the best choice for feeding infants.
If you are sick and choose to breastfeed:
Wear a mask and wash your hands before each feeding.
If you have someone healthy who can take care of the baby, stay at least 6 feet away from your baby between feedings.
If you are sick and want to express your breast milk to feed to your baby:
A mother’s milk is safe and important for her baby.
Express your breast milk as many times as your baby eats, or at least six to eight times a day.
Wear a mask when you express your milk.
Wash your hands, breasts, breast pump parts, and baby bottles before you express breast milk.
Clean your breast pump after each use. Learn How to Keep Your Breast Pump Kit Clean: The Essentials.
If possible, have someone who does not have COVID-19 feed the expressed milk to your baby.
If you feed the expressed milk to your baby, always wear a mask and wash your hands first.
If you want to go back to breastfeeding your baby after you are no longer sick, help is available. Ask your health care provider or WIC clinic where you can find help.
COVID-19 vaccine recommendations during breastfeeding
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has Information about COVID-19 Vaccines for People who are Pregnant or Breastfeeding (December 6, 2021).
The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended while pregnant and breastfeeding.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect you from severe illness
Recent reports show breastfeeding parents who have received COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their milk, which could help protect their babies.
Other COVID-19 and breastfeeding information:
Breastfeeding and Caring for Newborns: CDC Guidance (January 20, 2022)
Breastfeeding Among Minnesota WIC Participants During COVID-19 (January 5, 2022)
Vaccinating Pregnant and Lactating Patients Against COVID-19 (February 8, 2022)
Find more information about COVID-19 on the MDH Website