Breastfeeding with COVID-19 infection

Laura Kearney, Regional Principal Medicines Information Pharmacist, Midlands and East Medicines Advice Service (Midlands site) & UK Drugs in Lactation Advisory ServicePublished

It is recommended that breastfeeding should continue if the mother has COVID-19 infection.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 virus can transfer into breast milk. There is evidence that maternal antibodies generated in response to COVID-19 virus do pass into breast milk.

Public Health England recommend that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus through breast milk or by being in close contact. This is also supported by the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative.

The following precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of the infant becoming infected through close contact:

  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before touching the infant or any expressing equipment
  • avoid coughing or sneezing on the infant while breastfeeding
  • Consider wearing a face mask whilst breastfeeding
  • if you use a breast pump, clean it as recommended by the manufacturer after each use.