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 Last updated See all updates

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

Breastfeeding should continue

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

Recommendations

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.

Minimising risk

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.

Further information on COVID-19

Mothers may also be on medicines to manage their symptoms whilst infected with COVID-19 and it is important to consider the safety of these medicines during breastfeeding.

Other useful SPS resources are available to help inform treatment decisions:

Using COVID-19 vaccines in breastfeeding women

Information for using COVID-19 vaccinations in breastfeeding women

Using Tocilizumab or Sarilumab for hospitalised patients with COVID-19 who are breastfeeding

Tocilizumab and sarilumab can be used off-label to treat hospitalised patients with COVID-19. Breastfeeding can continue if these treatments are required.

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