COVID-19, postpartum, and breastfeeding: Your questions answered

Questions about how COVID-19 can impact your postpartum experience? The Ovia Health clinical team answers your questions about COVID-19, postpartum and breastfeeding.

If I am infected with COVID-19 during delivery, what will happen to my baby after delivery?

If you are suspected of or are confirmed to have COVID-19 during your delivery, your baby will likely undergo testing to confirm their infection status and will be isolated from other healthy infants while receiving their normal newborn care[1]. You and your baby may be encouraged to share a room (“rooming-in”).

Can I breastfeed and have skin-to-skin contact with my baby if I am infected with COVID-19?

There are currently no known cases where COVID-19 infections have been transmitted through breast milk[2, 3], so breast milk itself is safe to feed your baby. 

Experts believe that it is reasonable to directly breastfeed your baby with proper precautions, such as wearing a mask and washing hands thoroughly [4]. We know that with other illnesses, you pass antibodies to your baby through your breast milk. Antibodies are what your body makes to help fight off illness. The research into COVID antibodies in breastmilk is really encouraging and suggests that antibodies are passed through breastmilk after infection or vaccination. More research is ongoing to determine how long antibodies are present after infection or vaccination.

Rooming-in and skin-to-skin contact are still recommended. While it is the birthing parent’s choice how to participate in these practices, there are many benefits, including better breastfeeding, temperature control, blood sugar, and parent-child bonding. Still, it is very important to wear a mask over your mouth and nose and clean your hands frequently. And when you’re not nursing, the CDC recommends having baby six feet away from you if possible.

Will I be separated from my baby if I have COVID-19?

Parents who are COVID-19 positive and coping well with their symptoms should NOT be separated from their baby after giving birth [6]. Early on in the pandemic, experts had recommended separating babies from infected parents. In light of more information, that guidance has changed. Parents and babies should stay together according to groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), ACOG, CDC and WHO. 

If you have concerns about your particular situation, please bring them up with your healthcare provider, and make sure you fully understand all the risks and benefits.

What about my postpartum appointments? Do these look different post-pandemic?

Many postpartum appointments during the pandemic were shifted to a telehealth model. Postpartum care, including mental health assessments, birth control planning and general questions can all be done virtually. Mental health is a major postpartum concern and standard perinatal depression screeners can be completed at home. In-office visits may still be necessary for those with underlying conditions, wound infections, desire for an IUD or implant, or in the presence of other concerning symptoms. Ask your provider what option(s) are most appropriate for you, and don’t hesitate to call them if you have any concerns about your physical or mental wellbeing. General recommendations are that each person has a 2-week and a 6-week postpartum appointment. 

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am breastfeeding?

Yes. It is the best way to protect your newborn and others. All people who are eligible to receive the vaccine at this time should be able to get it if they so wish. Multiple well-respected clinical organizations, including the CDC and ACOG (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), recommend people who are trying to conceive, are pregnant, and breastfeeding get vaccinated against COVID [7]

Should I get the COVID-19 booster if I’m breastfeeding?

The CDC recommends the booster shot for everyone over the age 6 months. Vaccination or a booster while breastfeeding passes valuable antibodies to your nursling.

Will my milk supply be impacted if I get COVID-19? 

Many anecdotal reports suggest that a temporary dip in milk supply can result during or after a COVID-19 infection. This is similar to many other illnesses. Prioritizing rest, and eating and drinking enough, is essential. Supply may take time to rebound, but most nurslings do well being fed on demand. If you are exclusively pumping,  you may need to dip into your freezer stash for a short period of time. Note that some people also experience nipple pain after feeds related to COVID-19 infection, which is believed to be the result of vasospasm. Warm compresses immediately after nursing or pumping can be helpful with this pain. It’s always okay to reach out to a lactation professional for support along your feeding journey!

Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
Updated December 2023

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