COVID and feeding your baby

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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 Pfizer vaccine (Cominarty) and Moderna vaccine (Spikevax) are safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy, or if breastfeeding or if planning to get pregnant. 

If Pfizer or Moderna is not accessible, the AstraZeneca vaccine can be considered in discussion with a healthcare provider about the benefits and potential rare risks.

This advice, and the evidence behind it is, is outlined in the Australian Government’s Shared decision making guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy.

You can find out more on our Vaccine information webpage.

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