This document provides guidance for people who are pregnant and breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic. The California Department of Public Health will update this guidance as new information becomes available.
It is important that pregnant people protect themselves against COVID-19 by taking these actions: (For more information, visit the CDC website.)
Take care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy and after delivery.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Talk about your concerns with your employer as well as options to work from home. If working from home is not an option, consider the following:
If you do not have sick leave, you may be covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA is unpaid leave that allows you to keep your job if you miss work to care for yourself or a sick family member. For further information on FMLA and COVID-19 please visit US Department of Labor. For further information on paid family leave in California, please visit Employee Development Department and Employee Development Department Pregnancy FAQs.
Pregnant people who work in health care should follow the CDC risk assessment and infection control guidelines for health care personnel exposed to patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Following recommended infection prevention and control practices is an important part of protecting all health care personnel in health care settings.
We do not know if the virus that causes COVID-19 can pass from the birthing parent to the fetus during pregnancy or at the time of delivery. However, the limited data available suggest it is not likely. (See CDC COVID-19 If you are Pregnant, Breastfeeding, or Caring for Young Children). Currently, there is not enough data on COVID-19 to provide guidance or information about the risk of miscarriage or birth defects. Data from another coronavirus epidemic, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), suggest no increased risk of fetal loss or birth defects associated with infection early in pregnancy. There may be an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, among pregnant people with COVID-19.
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and are preparing to give birth, talk to your health care provider. Follow their recommendations on how best to protect your newborn.
Early and close contact between the mother and infant has many well-established benefits. The ideal setting for care of a healthy, term newborn while in the hospital is in the mother's room. Mothers who room-in with their infants can more easily learn and respond to their feeding cues, which helps establish breastfeeding.
Current evidence suggests the risk of an infant being infected with COVID-19 from their mother is low. Furthermore, data suggests that there is no difference in risk of COVID-19 infection to the infant whether an infant is cared for in a separate room or remains in the mother's room.
If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, you will need to take steps to minimize the risk of infecting the infant while rooming-in together. Steps include:
Yes. Breastfeeding is encouraged unless the mother is too ill to breastfeed. Breastmilk protects your infant from numerous illnesses and provides all the nutrients your infant needs. At this time, there is no evidence that a mother passes COVID-19 to her infant through her breastmilk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics say that breastfeeding parents with COVID-19 can successfully breastfeed.
The decision to start or continue breastfeeding should be a shared decision made between the breastfeeding parent, the family, and the health care provider. When parents have been either exposed to, have symptoms of, or have COVID-19 decide to breastfeed, they should take precautions to avoid spreading the virus to their infant. Precautions include washing hands before touching the infant and wearing a mask, if possible, while feeding at the breast. If a parent has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and chooses to temporarily express milk, they should wash their hands before expressing milk or touching any pump or bottle parts and wear a mask while pumping. They should follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning [English and Spanish] after each use. These recommendations should also be followed whether or not a parent has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are important to protect the infant from all kinds of infections, not just COVID-19. If possible, consider having someone who is not sick feed the expressed milk to the infant.
Yes, your breastmilk is the best food for your baby and will also help protect your baby from getting certain infections. If you are temporarily separated from your infant, frequent hand expression or pumping, ideally with a hospital-grade pump, is necessary to establish and build your milk supply. Pumping every 2-3 hours (including at night) signals the breasts to produce milk and prevents blocked milk ducts and breast infections. Mothers who are unable to establish milk production in the hospital, or who have to temporarily stop breastfeeding, can relactate with skilled assistance. Additional information on relactation is available. (See CDC guidance from 8/3/2020)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors should not be in your home. People can have COVID-19 and spread the disease even before they have any symptoms. Only those living in the household should be near or taking care of the newborn.
COVID-19 Resources for Women & Families
COVID-19 Resources for Family & Reproductive Health Professionals
COVID-19 and Pregnancy: What Maternal-Fetal Medicine Subspecialists Need to Know