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COVID-19 and breastfeeding

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), current evidence suggests that breast milk isn’t likely to spread the virus to babies. Here’s what you need to know.

Baby looks at mom while breastfeeding

Breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic

Although researchers are not 100% certain that COVID-19 cannot pass from mother to baby via breast milk, most studies show that breastfeeding:

  • Is safe, regardless if the mother has COVID-19
  • Remains the best source of nutrition for most babies
  • Helps protect babies from infections (e.g., infections of the ears, lungs, and digestive system)

Having COVID-19, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,1 “should not stop you from giving your baby breast milk.”

The CDC2 separately echoes the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and adds that pregnant people should keep in mind that they:

  • Are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people
  • May be at increased risk for other adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth

If you have COVID-19, to help avoid passing the infection to your baby:

  • Use a face mask or covering when holding your baby, including during feeding—NEVER put a mask or covering over a baby’s face
  • Wash your hands before touching:
    • Your baby
    • Any breast pump or bottle parts—and clean all pump and bottle parts after use
  • Consider asking someone who doesn’t have COVID-19 help you care for your baby, such as by bottle-feeding your breast milk to your baby after you pump

Helpful tips for breastfeeding

The CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest breastfeeding people keep in mind the following:

  • If you plan to breastfeed, talk with your OB-GYN or other healthcare professional before you deliver, because your doctor can ask us to send you a breast pump before your baby is born
  • Frequent hand expression or pumping, ideally with a hospital-grade pump, will help you establish and build milk supply if you are separated from your newborn
  • Pump or feed every 2-3 hours (at least 8-10 times in 24 hours, including at night), especially in the first few days
  • Wash your hands with soap and water (or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol) for 20 seconds before breastfeeding or expressing breast milk even if you don’t have COVID-19

Consider getting help from a lactation support provider if you:

  • Cannot establish milk production in the hospital after birth
  • Have to temporarily stop breastfeeding during a COVID-19 illness because you do not feel well enough

HumanaBeginnings program

We know all moms need help before and after giving birth.

Our HumanaBeginnings™ program:

  • Is for our pregnant enrollees
  • Helps you access your benefits, like a free portable crib for each baby you have, once we receive notice of your delivery
  • Includes rewards through Go365 for Humana Healthy Horizons for going to the doctor and getting certain screenings and shots
  • Provides a free portable crib for each baby you have, once we receive notice of your delivery
  • Provides support and education about breastfeeding
  • Provides the help you need before and after you give birth
  • And more!

Enroll in HumanaBeginnings and get help accessing your benefits, such as a free breast pump, once your OB-GYN submits a doctor’s order to a durable medical equipment (DME) provider.

Learn more about our HumanaBeginnings, including how to enroll.

  1. “Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients,” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, last accessed August 17, 2022,
  2. “Breastfeeding and Caring for Newborns,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed January 17, 2023,

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