This document provides guidance for people who are breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic. The California Department of Public Health will update this guidance as new information becomes available.
CDPH recommends that all persons, including those that are breastfeeding, get vaccinated and boosted, when eligible. Researchers have found that COVID-19 vaccine can be given safely to protect pregnant people and their babies. The COVID-19 vaccine may be given any time before, during or after pregnancy. Breastfeeding people may receive any of the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. For more information about vaccines available in California, visit our Get the Facts on COVID-19 Vaccines website.
Additionally, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agree that people with COVID-19 can breastfeed. If you get COVID-19 and are breastfeeding, take precautions to lower the risk of passing COVID-19 to your baby. COVID-19 vaccines are safe for breastfeeding people and their babies. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies.
For more information, visit Breastfeeding and Caring for Newborns if you have COVID-19.
Click here to visit the CA Department of Public Health website.
Questions and Answers
If I am diagnosed with COVID-19, can I breastfeed my baby?
Yes. Breastfeeding is encouraged unless you are too sick to breastfeed or are on certain medications that could be dangerous to your baby. Breastmilk protects your baby from many illnesses and provides all the nutrients your baby needs.
Currently, there is no evidence that a breastfeeding parent passes COVID-19 to their baby through their breastmilk. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics say that breastfeeding people with COVID-19 can successfully breastfeed.
The CDC recommends that people who are breastfeeding get vaccinated and get all recommended COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies.
The decision to start or continue breastfeeding should be a shared decision made between the breastfeeding parent, their family, and their health care provider. When people have been either exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19, and decide to breastfeed, they should take precautions to avoid spreading the virus to their baby. Precautions include washing hands before touching the baby and wearing a mask, if possible, while breastfeeding. If a parent has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and chooses to temporarily express milk, they should wash their hands before expressing milk or touching any pump or bottle parts and wear a mask while pumping. They should follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning (also available in Spanish) after each use. These recommendations should also be followed whether or not a parent has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are important to protect the baby from all kinds of infections, not just COVID-19. If possible, consider having someone who is not sick feed the expressed milk to the baby. For more information, visit Breastfeeding & Caring for Newborns.
If I have COVID-19 and my baby is temporarily placed in the nursery, can my baby still have my breastmilk?
Yes, your breastmilk is the best food for your baby and will also help protect your baby from getting certain infections. If you are temporarily separated from your baby, frequent hand expression or pumping, ideally with a hospital-grade pump, is necessary to establish and build your milk supply. Pumping every 2-3 hours (including at night) signals the breasts to produce milk and prevents blocked milk ducts and breast infections. Breastfeeding people who are unable to establish milk production in the hospital, or who have to temporarily stop breastfeeding, can often resume lactation with help from a Lactation Consultant. Additional information on relactation is available. For more information, visit Breastfeeding and Caring for Newborns if you have COVID-19.
What precautions should I take while expressing breastmilk in the workplace?
In order to prevent contamination of breast milk in general, you should wash your hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow CDC information on how to properly clean and sanitize breast pumps. If possible, use a single-user pump.
Breastfeeding people who work in settings with a higher risk of exposure to the virus, such as healthcare providers and first responders, should wear a mask while breastfeeding or expressing milk in the workplace.
If your workplace only has lactation rooms that can be used by more than one person at a time, ask your employer to limit potential for crowding by staggering lactation schedules or encouraging telework. Additional information on ways to disinfect workplace lactation rooms and keep them clean can be found here: CDC Care for Breastfeeding People.
More information for California families: COVID-19 Resources for Women & Families
More information for California obstetrical providers: COVID-19 Resources for Family & Reproductive Health Professionals