Fall is ending and winter is quickly approaching, which can only mean one thing: cold and flu season. Yuck.
You may feel funny about breastfeeding while you’re ill. After all, you wouldn’t share a glass with someone who was sick. You may be worried that you’ll get your baby sick if you continue to breastfeed while you have a cold or the flu. However, breastfeeding your baby while you’re recovering from an illness is the right thing to do and it helps keep baby healthy! Not only will you provide your baby with the nourishment that she needs, your breast milk actually contains antibodies that will prevent her from getting sick.
There are only a few illnesses that prevent moms from breastfeeding. For most minor issues – the common cold, the flu, diarrhea, a sinus infection, a cough, a fever, a UTI – you don’t have to stop breastfeeding (whenever you have concerns about how your health affects your nursing, you should contact your doctor). Here’s what you need to know about breastfeeding when you’re sick.
Get Some Rest
Being sick and continuing to breastfeed can be extremely tiring. As always, you need to look after yourself so you can look after your baby. If you’re feeling lousy, you’re allowed to take a sick day. Your body needs extra energy to fight off the illness and continue making a healthy supply of breast milk. If you need to, hand your partner/friend/mom/babysitter a bottle of breastmilk so you can get in a solid nap.
Drink plenty of fluids
You’re already chugging gallons of water, but when you’re sick you’ll need even more fluids to avoid dehydration and prevent a decrease in milk supply. Staying hydrated can also help with symptoms such as nausea and fever and help to clear secretions.
Good hygiene is important to decrease the risk of spreading illness. If you’re coughing and sneezing, be sure to wash thoroughly before feeding baby, preparing food, using your pump, or changing nappies. We think this is sort of a given, but try not to cough or sneeze too close to baby.
Know your medicine
It’s fine to take paracetamol, ibuprofen and some antibiotics while breastfeeding. Be sure to discuss it with a doctor first and follow the dosing instructions.
Stronger prescription painkillers aren’t recommended. And medicines that cause drowsiness are best avoided when you’re breastfeeding too.
Invest in a Neti Pot
Neti Pot’s work by pouring filtered water mixed with a saline solution into one nostril to push the mucus buildup out of the other nostril. That may sound gross, but it’s immensely helpful for relieving congestion and sinus pain. And because it’s simply a nasal flush, you’re not ingesting anything when you use it that could pass into your breastmilk.
Try natural remedies
Mix some hot water with lemon and honey to soothe your throat, or try another caffeine-free herbal tea. Steam is also a great way to open airways, especially when combined with herbs like oregano or thyme. Many essential oils are also acceptable and effective, such as Lavender, Lemon, and Eucalyptus.
If you are ill and not feeling well, you may inadvertently skip feedings or feel the need for someone else to feed your baby. This, or the illness you have, may cause a decrease in your milk supply. You may want to get advice from a lactation consultant if you notice a dip in your production.
Get well soon, mama!