Advice for breastfeeding women

The Royal Women’s Hospital is closely monitoring developments regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and is taking all advised precautions.

On this page you can find the latest information from international health authorities and our own experts on breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Taking advice from the World Health Organization and other breastfeeding authorities, the Women’s continues to advise women to establish and maintain breastfeeding and to promote skin-to-skin contact at birth for all women and their babies

Anita Moorhead, senior lactation consultant and clinical midwife at the Women’s, says that as with other peak times for illnesses (like the seasonal flu), mothers are encouraged to continue to breastfeed - but with careful attention to hand hygiene and how they direct their coughs and sneezes.

“It’s important that breastfeeding mothers are paying close attention to advice on reducing your risk of coronavirus,” said Anita Moorhead. 

“With current advice, if you are a suspected or confirmed mother with COVID-19, we would encourage you to wear a mask when feeding or expressing breast milk for your baby, have your baby in a cot about 1.5 metres away from you when not feeding and, where possible, have someone else help with the care of the baby."

“We know that breastfeeding and providing breast milk is one of the best things to help prevent many infections for babies, so our advice at the moment remains the same: keep breastfeeding and keep up with careful handwashing.  Know that you are caring for your baby well and we will help you to do that.”

Formula feeding

“Where a mother needs to use infant formula, strict handwashing and careful attention to sterilising of bottles and making of infant formula is so important,” added Anita Moorhead.

“Due to recent issues with food availability, if the infant formula that you usually use for your baby is not available, then it’s okay to use another formula."

“Make sure it is infant formula suitable for babies from birth to 12 months and pay careful attention to the directions on the can. Be aware alternative brands may have different size scoops in the tin and use different amounts of water.”   

For the latest information on COVID-19 and breastfeeding visit the websites listed below.

Reducing your risk

  • Practice good hand hygiene – wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry with paper towel or a hand dryer. Alcohol-based hand rub is an acceptable alternative.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing or cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, and encourage others to do the same. Make sure you put the tissue into a bin and then wash your hands afterwards.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands.
  • Where possible, keep at least one metre away from people who have a respiratory illness and/or are coughing and sneezing.
  • Avoid shaking hands with others.

This is a rapidly changing situation, so please visit the Department of Health and Human Services website for regular updates.

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