It’s that time of year again. No not the holidays, but that time when viruses are spreading like crazy. Coming down with a cold or the flu is bad enough on it’s own but getting sick while caring for an infant takes it to another level. If you do get sick you may wonder; can I breastfeed while sick? When I had my daughter I got sick about a week after her birth. I was so worried about breastfeeding and passing something bad on to her. I did a little research and discovered that breastfeeding while sick is actually just fine.
It’s almost always safe to breastfeed while sick!
I have heard many moms express concern that breastfeeding while sick is not a good idea. They might wonder if they can pass the illness on through breast milk, or that being in such close proximity to their baby while sick will let their baby catch it.
The truth is once you start to feel ill you have already exposed your baby to whatever you are coming down with. Viruses and most common illnesses such as colds, flu or stomach viruses cannot be passed on through breast milk. The best thing you can do is continue to breastfeed your baby. In fact, as your body creates antibodies to the virus or illness those antibodies are passed to your baby through your breast milk. Your baby is actually more protected if you continue to breastfeed.
I seriously had no idea about this when I first started breastfeeding but it’s amazing! I got sick about a week after my daughter was born and while it was very difficult to care for a newborn while sick; she did not catch anything. Neither one of my kids has ever gotten sick when I am sick and I am sure that is due to breastfeeding. I am always in close proximity with them and I have not needed to be careful or take special precautions to protect them from my illness.
I have breastfed through colds, a stomach virus, mastitis and other various illnesses and my kids have stayed healthy. Just another amazing benefit of breast milk! When I did have the stomach virus my husband caught it right away. That thing is highly contagious, so again how amazing that my daughter was protected.
Now there are certain viruses such as HIV that can be passed through breast milk but for the most common illnesses breastfeeding is perfectly safe.
If you end up being prescribed a medication while you are sick check to make sure it is safe to use while breastfeeding. Most prescriptions and over the counter medications are perfectly safe while breastfeeding but it’s always a good idea to check.
Tips for dealing with illness while breastfeeding:
Try to rest and drink lots of fluids.
Have someone help you out if possible so you can rest.
Keep on breastfeeding frequently.
If you can, have someone bring your baby to you to breastfeed while you rest.
If you do not have any help try to rest with your baby in bed with you.
It is almost always safe to continue breastfeeding while sick. Since you are passing your antibodies on to your baby through your breast milk they will be protected and are also getting an amazing immune system benefit. There are certain illnesses that may not be safe to breastfeed during, such as HIV, so if you have any questions about your illness or any medication you are taking of course check with your doctor.
Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any questions about breastfeeding while sick! Jen