8 Tips for Feeding Your Baby While Sick
The one thing that every mom dreads is being sick, but it happens to the best of us. When you’re breastfeeding your baby and feeling under the weather, there can be a lot of challenges.
Breastfeeding while sick with a cold can also have some benefits for your baby so don’t feel discouraged from nursing when you are not well! I’m going to share 8 tips for moms who are breastfeeding while sick. There is also a super helpful frequently asked questions section!
*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. I only recommend products I love or would personally use.
*I am NOT a medical professional. Everything I share is from my own personal experiences as a mother. As with any medical decisions you make, you should always consult with your physician.
Tips for Breastfeeding While Sick
Tip #1 Don’t Stop Breastfeeding
If you are breastfeeding, it is important to try and stick with your breastfeeding even when you’re sick. Breastfeeding an infant can help prevent them from catching a cold that mom might have, which will lessen their chances of developing a fever or other symptoms while breastfeeding.
– When breastfeeding during illness, be sure to provide breastfeeding breaks as needed.
– Consider breastfeeding your baby before or after a feeding when she is feeling better, then breastfeeding her full time while you are sick and resume breastfeeding on alternate days when you feel better again.
Tip #2 Try to Stick to Your Breastfeeding Routine
Try to maintain the same routine with regards to breastfeeding because this will help keep milk production up for both mom and baby.
– If breastfeeding while sick becomes too difficult, consider breastfeeding your baby before or after a feeding when she is feeling better and breastfeeding her full time when you are sick.
Tip #3 Try to Rest When You Can
Get plenty of rest to help get over the sickness quicker so that you don’t end up with mastitis from being overtired which can be much more difficult than breastfeeding while sick. This will likely mean you’ll need help from your significant other, or asking someone to come to help you if you’re a single parent.
Tip #4 Drink Plenty of Fluids
If you are breastfeeding and have a cold or the flu, try to take care of yourself so that your immune system can fight off these viruses as well as those for mom. Drink plenty of fluids by drinking water with lemon juice squeezed into it, herbal tea with honey in it like chamomile or peppermint, and plenty of rest.
Tip #5 Consider Using a Breastpump
If breastfeeding while sick becomes too difficult for you to continue doing so, consider pumping your milk in a breast pump to maintain breastfeeding when you are feeling better again. If you don’t currently have a breast pump, you could try to use a manual breast pump, such as the haakaa breast pump, or I HIGHLY recommend and personally use the Spectra S1 breast pump.
Tip #6 Consider Taking OTC Medication
Consider taking an over-the-counter medication like Tylenol or Advil for breastfeeding while sick with a cold or the flu. If you’re unsure of what you can take, make a call to your child’s pediatrician and they will be able to help you.
Tip #7 Take a Hot Shower
Consider taking a hot shower. This may help you breathe easier and it may help your milk flow easier as well.
Tip #8 Choose Healthy Foods
Eat healthy foods as usual but be sure to drink plenty of water. If you’re struggling to drink plain water, try drinking water with lemon juice squeezed into it and herbal tea with honey to help prevent dehydration.
Breastfeeding While Sick FAQ
What if you are sick while breastfeeding?
If you have found yourself with the latest cold or flu, the best thing you can do for your baby is to continue breastfeeding. You will help them build their immunity to whatever it is you are fighting, which gives them the best chance of not getting it.
Let’s talk about what you can do for yourself while sick.
It would be the same care you would do for yourself before you became a nursing mother. Some tips for breastfeeding while sick- rest, fluids, and time. If you are comfortable doing so, there are certain medications that are considered safe while breastfeeding that you can take. I’ll share more about this in a bit.
Is breastfeeding while sick safe?
If you are fighting the common cold, the flu, or any other general virus, it is safe, and often encouraged by medical professionals to continue breastfeeding your baby. I know this from my personal experiences of being a nursing mom who was sick.
Now, if you are fighting something that could be considered dangerous for your baby, or taking treatment for something like HIV or cancer, it’s always good to check with a healthcare provider to make the best decision for both of you.
One other thing to consider if you’re fighting the stomach bug would be to make sure that you are keeping hydrated. This is critical for both you and your baby.
Will breastfeeding while sick make the baby sick?
Once you discover you’re sick, your baby has already been exposed to the illness.
So, there is no guarantee that your baby won’t get what you have if you’re breastfeeding while sick, but you are giving your baby the best chance of not getting the illness by continuing to breastfeed.
It’s unavoidable to be in your baby’s space but stay out of your baby’s face. The less direct air they breathe from you, the better off they’ll be.
Can a baby catch a cold while breastfeeding?
Yes, a baby can catch a cold while breastfeeding.
I had this happen to me many times as a nursing mother. I would catch something and then because I was up close and personal with my baby, they caught what I had.
The difference between me and the baby though, was that their illness lasted just a fraction of the length of time of what mine did.
I am a firm believer that the antibodies my body was creating and passing through breast milk helped strengthen my baby’s immunity.
Can I breastfeed with a fever and chills?
Even if you are experiencing fever and chills, you should continue to breastfeed.
I feel like a broken record here, but it truly is the best thing you can do for your baby if you’re fighting an ordinary illness. Unless of course, a medical professional has advised you otherwise.
I have a cold, will my newborn catch it?
Breastfeeding with a cold is totally ok and highly encouraged! Use tissues to block any coughing or sneezing and make sure to keep your used tissues out of your baby’s reach.
Also, you’ll want to make sure you thoroughly wash your hands often to kill and germs.
Can I breastfeed if my baby is sick?
If your child is sick, it is totally fine, and will likely be encouraged by a medical professional, to continue breastfeeding.
Your body is already fighting off whatever it is your kiddo has, and the antibodies your body is creating will help their body fight it as well.
Another piece of this is that you’ll want to consider nursing often, or at least continue to offer even if they aren’t accepting. It’s super important that your baby stays hydrated and since you’re likely their only source of fluid, you should closely monitor this.
What medication can I take while breastfeeding?
One great resource I have found as a breastfeeding mom is Kellymom. This website shares a lot of topics I have only begun to explore on my blog, and I want to share them with you.
One topic that is covered very well, is which medications are safe to take while breastfeeding. I have accessed this resource many times while breastfeeding and I have always felt confident with the answers.
Breastfeeding while sick and milk supply
If you notice that your milk supply is decreasing, I would highly encourage you to increase your fluid intake.
It is essential that you stay hydrated, not only for yourself but also to maintain your milk supply. If your baby isn’t nursing as much as usual and you have a breast pump, it may be beneficial to pump while you are sick to maintain your milk supply. If you don’t have a breast pump, it is probably a good idea to get one.
I wrote extensively about breastfeeding and pumping, so be sure to check that out for more advice!
If for some reason your baby goes on a nursing strike, you can at least offer them the expressed milk in an effort to make sure they’re well hydrated and on the road to recovery.
Having a sick baby, or you being sick yourself can cause a strain at times on any nursing relationship. There are some great ways you can maintain your nursing relationship with your baby, as well as increase your chances of everyone getting well more quickly. I hope you have found some tips to help you get through this season of illness!
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