Breastfeeding and COVID-19 – what you need to know

A breastfeeding mother at the Women's
6 January 2022 |

Many pregnant women and new mums are asking questions about the effect COVID-19 could have on their bodies, and babies, while breastfeeding. The Women’s is sharing the latest advice from trusted medical sources to help inform our patients.

Breastfeeding is both a powerful bonding tool, and a helpful way to protect babies from a variety of illnesses.

If you are breastfeeding or giving breastmilk to your baby, and have been diagnosed with COVID-19, deemed a close contact, or have recovered from the virus, the Women’s advises you to continue to breastfeed unless you are feeling too unwell.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and feeling too unwell to breastfeed, we encourage you to regularly express milk for your baby.

Maternal antibodies, produced by your body when you are exposed to COVID-19, are actually beneficial to babies, and are passed on to your child via breastmilk. According to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, there is also evidence of maternal antibodies being passed onto baby via breastmilk following a full course of a COVID-19 vaccination.

Current research also shows that newborn babies rarely develop serious symptoms when exposed to COVID-19. There is no need to socially distance from your baby, with skin to skin contact encouraged.

In addition, the Women’s assures new mothers and pregnant women that there is no evidence of additional risks to themselves or their children from an approved COVID-19 vaccine. It is important that pregnant women are vaccinated, as COVID-19 presents a much higher risk of complications.

For more information, head to our website or call the Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 268. A COVID-19 guide from the Australian Breastfeeding Association is also available here.

In summary:

  • You should continue to breastfeed your baby if you have contracted, been exposed to, or recovered from COVID-19
  • If you have recovered or been vaccinated, your baby may develop protective anti-bodies to COVID-19
  • If feeling too unwell to breastfeed, we recommend you express milk for your baby. Follow these important hygiene steps to ensure your breastmilk is stored correctly
  • Call the Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 mum 2 mum (1800 686 268) or the Maternal & Child Health 24 hour health line on 13 22 29 for additional support