I’m breastfeeding. What should I do if I develop symptoms?

While an analysis of breastmilk samples from nine women with COVID-19 did not show any virus in their breastmilk, we still don’t know if the new coronavirus that causes Covid-19 can be transmitted via breastmilk. However, we do know that the virus can be carried by respiratory droplets and spread through close contact, such as when you are holding your baby during feeding. If you continue with breastfeeding while you have symptoms of Covid-19, the CDC recommends that you take steps to reduce your risk of passing the virus to your baby.

Hygiene is one of our best tools for stopping the virus’s spread, and it is important when feeding your baby. Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol before pumping milk, preparing formula, or feeding your baby.

If you are sick and choose to nurse your baby, you should consider wearing a face mask if you have one available. Alternatively, you may opt to pump breastmilk and have someone who is not ill feed the baby from a bottle.

It is also a good idea to have a back-up feeding plan in case of emergency. Even if you are exclusively breastfeeding your child, you may want to have a two-week supply of baby formula available if you become too unwell to feed your baby yourself.

Science review by ERS, GSN
Last updated March 21, 2020 at 9:30am ET