COVID-19 Vaccine and Nursing Your Baby: What You Should Know

The benefits of human milk during the pandemic


Every August, we celebrate those who promote and support lactation, breastfeeding, and chestfeeding. World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month remind us of the wealth of benefits that human milk has for the baby, parent, society, and environment.

Whether it’s pumping, hand expressing, chestfeeding, breastfeeding, using donor milk, or combo-feeding with formula, we applaud and support all those trying to meet their lactation goals. After all, there are many ways to feed a baby!

Human milk is the ideal food for a baby. It’s unmatched by non-human milk supplementations like infant formula. Human milk is full of life saving antibodies, nutrition, and antimicrobial properties made exactly for your baby. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that babies only breastfeed or chestfeed for at least the first six months. There’s no need for anything else unless medication or supplements are recommended by a doctor or midwife. Parents can then introduce complementary foods while continuing to nurse until the baby is 12 months or older. Infant cereals, fruits, vegetables, and water are some examples. By age two, the baby will be ready to eat most of the same foods as the rest of the family.

Here are some other benefits of nursing your baby:

  • A parent’s milk can protect babies against short and long-term illnesses and diseases. Nursed babies have a lower risk of asthma, type 1 diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). They are less likely to get ear infections and stomach bugs from the protective properties of their parent’s milk.
  • Breastfeeding, chestfeeding, or expressing milk via pumping provides health benefits for the nursing parent, too. It helps the body recover from pregnancy quicker and reduces the parent’s risk of post-partum depression. It also helps protect against breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
  • Parents can nurse babies anytime and anywhere! This provides a great source of comfort during travel or during change in routine. Nursing in public is a legally protected right in Washington state (RCW 49.60.030 and 49.60.215).

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am nursing or plan to nurse my baby?

Yes! The CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that parents who are lactating or pregnant get a COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. There’s no need to stop serving your milk if you get vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccines can’t cause COVID-19 infections in anyone, including the parent and the baby. The vaccines will not change or alter anyone’s DNA, and there is no evidence that the vaccines impact fertility or cause miscarriages. The vaccines were developed based upon decades of scientific research using the most advanced technology in history. This allowed the scientists to develop the global lifesaving vaccines quicker than ever before.

In fact, getting the vaccine while nursing can provide some added benefits. Recent studies show nursing parents that received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their produced milk. These antibodies made by your body may be passed through breastmilk and may help protect your child from the virus. So, receiving both doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) actually boosts the protective properties in your milk and helps protect your child.

Is it safe to nurse my baby if I have/had COVID-19?

The World Health Organization (WHO) encourages parents with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 illness to start or continue nursing their babies. The CDC also determined the risk for a newborn to get COVID-19 from the nursing parent is low, especially when the parent takes care to prevent the spread of disease (such as by wearing a mask and washing hands).

COVID-19 is rare among newborns if the parent was infected during their pregnancy. Most newborns who tested positive for COVID-19 had mild or no symptoms and recovered fully.

Where can I learn more?

We recommend talking to your doctor or health care provider for clarity on any specific question and the most up-to-date information on nursing your baby.

You can also visit these trusted sources for more information about the benefits of human milk for babies:

More Information

This blog is accurate as of the date of posting. Information changes rapidly, so check the state’s COVID-19 website for the most up-to-date info at You can also sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to everyone 12 and older. For more information about the vaccine, visit and use the vaccine locator tool to find an appointment. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.

WA Notify can alert you if you’ve been near another user who tested positive for COVID-19. Add WA Notify to your phone today:

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington State may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.