Breastfeeding While Sick- A Simple Guide
Being sick yourself can be hard enough but continuing to nurse a baby while you’re sick is another thing entirely.
However, nursing your baby while you’re sick is likely one of the best things you can do for them.
Simple. Your baby getting the antibodies from your breastmilk that your body is creating to help you get better. And, those antibodies are just what your baby needs to give them the best chance at not getting whatever it is you’re sick with.
This is one of the greatest benefits of breastfeeding while sick.
*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.
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.
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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 you 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.
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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.
Breastfeeding with 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.
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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.
Breastfeeding while a child 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.
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 your 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.
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 it 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.
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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