Breastfeeding and infant feeding
Breast milk is tailor-made for your baby, free, and always available. It also offers protection from infections and has other health benefits too. Find out more about the many benefits of breastfeeding and answers to other breastfeeding questions on the Start4life.
At the time of writing, there is no evidence showing that the virus can be carried in breastmilk, the well-recognised benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk.
If you are infected with the virus, the main risk of breastfeeding is close contact between you and your baby, as if you cough or sneeze, this could contain droplets which are infected with the virus, leading to infection of the baby after birth.
A discussion about the risks and benefits of breastfeeding should take place between you and your family and your maternity team.
This guidance may change as knowledge evolves.
When you or anyone else feeds your baby, the following precautions are recommended:
- Wash your hands before touching your baby, breast pump or bottles
- Try to avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby while feeding at the breast
- Consider wearing a face mask while breastfeeding, if available
- Follow recommendations for pump cleaning after each use
- Consider asking someone who is well to feed your expressed breast milk to your baby.
If you choose to feed your baby with formula or expressed milk, it is recommended that you follow strict adherence to sterilisation guidelines. If you are expressing breast milk in the hospital, a dedicated breast pump should be used.
You can find more information at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website’ and UNICEF - Infant feeding during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Support with infant feeding
- Gloucestershire Breastfeeding Supporters' Network
You can request advice and support via their Facebook page
- The Breastfeeding Network
- National Breastfeeding Helpline 0300 100 0212
- Formula feeding advice from the First Steps Nutrition Trust Infant milks information for parents and carers
- UNICEF’s free Infant formula and responsive bottle feeding guide provides parents who are bottle feeding with an overview on how to bottle feed responsively and, for parents who are formula feeding, how to choose an infant formula
If you are finding it difficult to get hold of infant formula, it is available in some smaller shops and pharmacies as well as in larger supermarkets.
Healthy Start vouchers can be used to buy infant formula as well as fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables.