Breastfeeding while Sick

Sick and breastfeeding? Should a mother continue to breastfeed while ill?

Can any Illnesses be Passed Via Your Breast Milk to your Baby?

1. Should I breastfeed, If I have a cold, flu or fever?

Breastfeeding whilst you are sick, is actually preferred against not breastfeeding while sick.

Whether you breastfeed or not, your baby will be exposed to your germs, but when you breastfeed, antibodies are transferred to your baby that can help fight off the cold or flu.

These antibodies can actually benefit your baby right through life. Feeding your baby will be much easier, you won't need to make formula or wash bottles; you can lie down and breastfeed. Your milk is also always available and at the perfect temperature.

If your baby is premature, it is recommended that you pump your milk during this time, as a baby can easily be infected just by being in the same room.

Ask your doctor about safe medications taken while breastfeeding.

If you have flu while breastfeeding and are not feeling up to breastfeeding your baby, it would be best to pump your breast milk to prevent a low milk supply. 

Interesting fact

~ Breastfeeding while sick ~

If your baby is not breastfed while you are sick, he/she is at greater risk of getting ill. Many times a breastfed baby is the only one in the family that doesn’t get sick, and will usually experience a very mild cold, if he/she does get sick.

2. What about breastfeeding while sick, with a mental illness like depression?

Read more about breastfeeding while on antidepressants.

3. Breastfeeding with HIV Aids?

Read more about breastfeeding with HIV Aids.

4. Breastfeeding with mastitis?

Read more about breastfeeding with mastitis here.

5. Breastfeeding with food poisoning?

Breastfeeding can continue with food poisoning, if a mother is only vomiting and/or has diarrhea and stomach cramps. If the toxins have passed into a mother's bloodstream, she might need to be hospitalized and probably won't feel up to breastfeeding anyway.

Breastfeeding with stomach flu can not harm your baby in any way.

6. Breastfeeding with cancer?

A baby can continue to breastfeed with X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds and cat scans and mammograms.

A mother will need to wean her baby temporarily during radioactive isotope testing.

7. Breastfeeding with Herpes Simplex I (cold sores) and/or Herpes Simplex II (Genital Herpes)?

Genital sores can infect the breast. If the mother has herpes sores on her breast, she can pump and dump the milk from that specific breast, until the sores dry up.

The mother should wash her hands often and refrain from kissing her baby, especially if she has sores on her mouth.

8. Breastfeeding with Hepatitis A,B and C ?

The mother can continue to breastfeed, if she has Hepatitis A, as this cannot be transmitted via breast milk, but is transmitted via blood and fecal matter.

With Hepatitis B or C, the mother can also continue to nurse, if her baby has been immunized against it.

9. Breastfeeding with STDs?

A mother with a Sexually transmitted Disease, can continue to breastfeed, but precaution should be taken if sores are present.

10. Breastfeeding with PCOS?

Read more about breastfeeding with PCOS here

11. Breastfeeding with Diabetes?

Yes a diabetic mother should breastfeed. The baby has a lesser chance of getting diabetes, if he/she is breastfed. Diabetic mothers who breastfeed, do have a higher risk of developing mastitis.

Read more about how to treat mastitis here.

12. Breastfeeding with an under active thyroid?

Read more about breastfeeding with postpartum thyroid dysfunction.

13. Breastfeeding with an overactive thyroid?

Your doctor might need to put your baby on medications, or you will need to wean your baby.

14. Breastfeeding when going for surgery?

Yes, a mother can continue to nurse or pump during this time. Let your anesthetist know that you are breastfeeding.

How to Avoid Baby from Getting Sick while Breastfeeding with Flu…

  • Avoid breathing and coughing on your baby when breastfeeding while sick.
  • Wash your hands before handling your baby.
  • Limit a lot of face-to-face contact like kissing.

Things for a Mother to Remember, if breastfeeding while sick…

  • Avoid medications such as antihistamines, that can decrease milk supply.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to decrease dehydration and keep your milk supply up.
  • Lying down when sick and breastfeeding can help a mother rest.
  • Never wean abruptly, this will put you at risk of engorgement and mastitis. Babies also don’t handle abrupt weaning too well.
  • Eat well and sleep as much as she can.
  • Talk to your doctor about medications that are safe to take when breastfeeding while sick. Read our page about breastfeeding and medication.

Other pages on "breastfeeding problems" in connection with breastfeeding while sick

- Antidepressants and breastfeeding

- Factors that influence drugs found in breast milk

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Site by BFeeding Mamma, Tracy Behr. Currently studying through Child birth International (CBC, CBD). Also an accomplished author and Mommy of two.

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