While I am enjoying life with my newborn baby and going through the 'fourth trimester' I have been dealing with some toddler illness in our house. It started when my baby was only two weeks old and my two year old had what appeared to be a stomach virus. He recovered quickly but it freaked me out since I had a brand new baby. Luckily nobody else caught it and he recovered in a day. It definitely made me wonder if it's safe to tandem nurse a sick toddler and a newborn baby.
Then, he and my four year old both had hand, foot, and mouth disease when my newborn was four weeks old. What a crazy name for a virus but apparently this is a common illness in the toddler world and most of us are initiated at some point. The symptoms from this include sores around the hand, feet, and mouth and other typical cold symptoms and a fever. My children seemed to only get sores in their mouths and recovered from this pretty quickly as well.
And now.. my son developed typical cold symptoms yesterday which quickly turned into a horrible cough and trouble breathing. We brought him to the ER and he was diagnosed with bronchitis and croup. Seriously? Can I catch a break here? My newborn is almost two months old now. I have been so grateful she has not caught any of this but it's giving me anxiety.
We have had plenty of fun and activity so far this summer in between illness but then it comes back. I have been lucky that my children have both been extremely healthy and this is the most and longest bought of illness I have dealt with between the two of them. But again, while I have a newborn? It feels unfair.
So, it got me wondering is it safe to tandem nurse when you have a sick toddler and a newborn? Could the baby get sick from my toddler by sharing the same surfaces or breastfeeding right after him? Should I clean off my breast or limit his nursing? I still nurse my two year old before bed. I have been happy to tandem breastfeed and since it is typically just once a day it has not been too demanding. It's been a nice bonding moment and part of our day since the baby arrived. I also believe continuing to nurse once a day has kept him from feeling jealously at her nursing around the clock.
When he got hand, foot, and mouth I got nervous though. I had limited his nursing when he had the stomach bug and I decided to again to be safe. But, I had already breastfed him and my newborn before he was showing symptoms so she would have already been exposed. I did what any worried mom would do and googled it..
It seems that while there is not a lot of information on this subject, the consensus from Kelly Mom and other resources, is that the anti-infection and antibacterial properties of breastmilk will help protect my baby. An amazing and well known benefit of breastfeeding is the fact that once a mother catches an illness her body will produce antibodies to the illness thus protecting the baby from it. This seems to happen as well when a sick toddler or baby is nursing, the breast is exposed to the illness and starts producing antibodies. It's another example of the amazing protective properties of breastmilk. So while I am still cautious, I hope breastfeeding continues to protect my baby from this latest illness and that my son recovers quickly.
Let me know, have you every tandem nursed a sick toddler and a newborn?