You can continue to breastfeed if you have a suspected or confirmed respiratory illness, such as COVID-19 or influenza.  

Breastfeeding is safe and the best way to feed your baby wherever possible. The benefits of feeding your baby breastmilk outweigh any potential risk of transmission of COVID-19 or influenza through breastmilk.

The risk of transmission of respiratory illnesses is via secretions from your nose and mouth. You will need to take the following precautions when feeding your baby, expressing breastmilk, during skin to skin contact or when caring for your baby:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub before touching your baby, breast pumps or bottles.
  • Wear a face mask – see tips on wearing a face mask.
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue, immediatly disposing of it and using alcohol-based hand rub or washing your hands with soap and clean water.

It is important for you to have plenty of fluids and rest. Some women have noticed that their milk supply may reduce when they are feeling unwell. Your baby may want to feed more frequently during this time, this will help maintain your milk supply.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association provides guidance on Increasing your Milk Supply

If you are too ill to breastfeed, try to express milk for your baby. Consider whether someone who is well can feed the expressed breastmilk to your baby by a bottle, cup or spoon. You can discuss feeding options with your midwife, child and family health nurse or GP.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association provides guidance on Expressing and storing breastmilk

All feeding equipment, including pumps, should be cleaned according to the manufacturer's instructions.  

If you have been too unwell to breastfeed or express breastmilk, you may wish to re-establish breastfeeding once you are well enough. Support is available from Child & Family Health Nursing Services, the Australian Breastfeeding Association and the Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand.

You don't need to stop breastfeeding before or after your COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations.  

For information on COVID-19 vaccinations including boosters go to the Australian Government's decision guide COVID-19 vaccination – shared decision making guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy and talk with your GP.

COVID-19 vaccines can be given on the same day as an influenza vaccine. For more information on influenza vaccination go to NSW Health Influenza - Get your flu shot today and talk with your GP.

Current as at: Monday 25 July 2022
Contact page owner: NSW Health