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Should a Mother Continue Breastfeeding While Sick?

Low Milk Supply Jan 18, 2021

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 while you are sick is 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 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.

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.

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 they do get sick.


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.
Woman drinking tea.
Drinking black tea - Photo by Thandy Yung / Unsplash

Things for a Mother to Remember if Breastfeeding While Sick…

  • 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.

Is It Okay to Take Medicine While Breastfeeding?

Taking paracetamol and ibuprofen while breastfeeding is generally safe as long as you consult with a healthcare professional and follow the recommended dosage. However, ibuprofen may not be safe for mothers with asthma. Aspirin has previously been advised against for breastfeeding mothers, but recent research suggests that low doses may be safe.

Some cold, flu, and cough remedies may contain decongestants or expectorants that could reduce milk supply, so avoid those with ingredients such as phenylephrine, phenylpropanolamine, or guaifenesin. Medications that cause drowsiness should also be avoided while breastfeeding. If you have any concerns about taking medication while breastfeeding, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional or pharmacist. If your baby was born prematurely or has a medical condition, you should also consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medications while breastfeeding.

What if You Need to Go to a Hospital

If you need medical treatment, either planned or in an emergency, you can take steps to ensure that your baby still receives the benefits of breast milk and that you can continue breastfeeding after you are discharged. One solution is to express and freeze your breast milk so that a caregiver can feed it to your baby while you are receiving treatment.

If you are having surgery with local or general anesthetic, this does not necessarily mean you need to stop breastfeeding or discard your breast milk. Once you feel well enough to hold your baby after an operation, the amount of anesthetic in your breast milk will usually be minimal, and it should generally be safe to breastfeed. However, it is always a good idea to seek the advice of a healthcare professional, lactation consultant, or breastfeeding specialist in these circumstances.

Should You Breastfeed a Sick Baby?

Breastfeeding a sick baby can be beneficial in many cases, as breast milk can provide important nutrients and antibodies that can help to support the baby's immune system and aid in recovery. It is generally recommended to continue breastfeeding a sick baby unless the baby is unable to nurse due to a medical condition or a healthcare provider advises the mother to stop breastfeeding.

In some cases, a sick baby may be less interested in breastfeeding due to a decreased appetite or fatigue. In these cases, offering smaller, more frequent feedings and trying different positions to find what works best for the baby can be helpful. If the baby is unable to breastfeed due to illness, it may be necessary to express breast milk and provide it to the baby by bottle or cup.

Is it Safe to Take Zyrtec When Breastfeeding?

Zyrtec (cetirizine) is an antihistamine medication that is safe for breastfeeding mothers to take. Studies have shown that a small amount of the medication may pass through breastmilk, but not enough to harm the baby. It may be preferred over other antihistamines like Claritin or Benadryl because it has less short-term effects, such as drowsiness, on the baby. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider about proper dosage and any underlying health problems. The Zyrtec brand does not formally endorse the use of their product while breastfeeding, but it is generally considered safe.

Conclusion

In conclusion, breastfeeding while sick is generally preferred over not breastfeeding. Breast milk can provide important nutrients and antibodies that can help to support the baby's immune system and aid in recovery. Taking paracetamol and ibuprofen while breastfeeding is generally safe, but it is important to consult with a healthcare professional and follow the recommended dosage. Aspirin may also be safe in low doses, but it is best to discuss its use with a healthcare professional. Stronger prescription painkillers such as codeine and tramadol are not recommended while breastfeeding.

Some cold, flu and cough remedies may contain decongestants or expectorants that could reduce milk supply, so it is important to read the ingredients and avoid those that contain phenylephrine, phenylpropanolamine, or guaifenesin. If you need medical treatment, expressing and freezing your breast milk can allow a caregiver to feed it to your baby while you are receiving treatment.

If you are having surgery with local or general anesthetic, it is generally safe to breastfeed once you feel well enough after the operation, but it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or lactation consultant. It is recommended to continue breastfeeding a sick baby, but it is important to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

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Tracy Behr

Mom of two, breastfeeding helper, and lover of all things natural! Studying a breastfeeding counselor course via Childbirth int. & plant-based nutrition via the Nutrition Inst.

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