Life happens, even when you are breastfeeding and sometimes moms and babies can come down with a cold or another illness. And if you are sick, or you have a sick baby, you might be wondering “Is it OK to continue breastfeeding while sick?”. Here’s what you need to know about breastfeeding while sick.
Is it safe to continue breastfeeding your sick baby?
We know that, as a rule, protective properties of breast milk mean that breastfed babies tend to be unwell less often, and recover faster, than formula-fed babies.
Breastfeeding a sick baby gives him or her a great chance of a faster recovery. Breast milk contains antibodies, white blood cells and protective enzymes that fight infections and help with healing. And breast milk has a constantly adjusting balance of vitamins and nutrients, supporting the baby’s immune system. Breastfeeding provides everything your baby needs and it is the best thing for him or her.
The composition of your breast milk changes when your baby is sick. Your body produces antibodies and then they are transferred to the baby through your milk. The levels of immunity-boosting cells in your milk also rise rapidly when your baby is unwell.
Have in mind that if your baby is ill, probably, you will have to alter the way you breastfeed. Usually, a baby with a cold wants to feed more often and in shorter periods. Also, if your baby has a stuffy nose, he or she will prefer to eat upright so you need to experiment with breastfeeding positions.
Is it safe to continue breastfeeding while sick?
You can continue breastfeeding through almost any common illness.
When you have a cold or flu, your baby will get antibodies through breast milk that will help reduce the risk of getting the same virus. Breast milk doesn’t transmit viruses to babies and your baby will not catch the illness through it.
But if your baby does get sick, he or she will probably get a less severe version of whatever you have, and probably will recover sooner. So, it is very important, while you are sick to continue breastfeeding and pumping often, eat as best you can, and keep hydrated.
Honestly, being sick and continuing to breastfeed can be extremely tiring and exhausting. Even of that try to find a will to continue. Ask relatives, friends or specialists for help. And remember that you have to look after yourself so you can look after your baby.
What about medicines while breastfeeding?
Usually, it is fine to take paracetamol, ibuprofen and some antibiotics while breastfeeding. But first speak with your healthcare provider. It is better to try natural remedies first, as cold medicine can decrease your milk supply. If you get serious cold or flu, it is better to visit your doctor and discussed with him what medicines you need to take. He will explain to you what dosing instructions you need to follow. And don’t forget to inform your doctor that you are still breastfeeding to find the best option for you.
What natural remedies you can use to boost your immune system while sick?
– Vitamin C – this is one of the most powerful immune stimulants. Try to eat more vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables. And to help your body a bit more you can get extra supplements with vitamin C.
– Honey – is a natural antimicrobial and antibacterial agent. Raw honey can be added to tea, yogurt and nuts.
– Elderberry syrup – is another natural immune booster and reduces the severity and duration of the common cold.
– Garlic – is very healthy for the body and it has antiviral, antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
– Chicken soup – one of the best natural immune boosters proven in the years.
– Water – do not forget to drink plenty of water. Good hydration is one of the most important things to fight the cold.
If you have to go into hospital?
Whether you need scheduled or urgent treatment, there are ways to ensure that your baby continues to benefit from breast milk and that you can continue breastfeeding. You can express and freeze your breast milk so the caregiver can feed it to your baby. Also, having surgery under local or general anesthetic doesn’t mean you have to stop breastfeeding. Тhere are also some rare serious conditions in which you may need to stop breastfeeding. Then, to keep the breast milk supply, you will have to pump and dump for a while. Or stop breastfeeding in general. In any case, you should discuss the situation and what is best to do for you and your baby with a medical and lactation consultant.
How to reduce the risk of spreading germs and viruses?
The key is to protect your environment and keep everything clean.
The most important thing to reduce the risk of spreading the disease is good hygiene.
Wash your hands with soap before feeding or handling your baby, preparing and eating food, going to the toilet or changing nappies.
Try not to touch your mouth, nose, or eyes and always wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
Try to avoid sneezing and coughing near your baby.
It is not so easy, but limit kisses and very close contact, except during feeding.
It is better to wear a mask and cover your nose and mouth during feeding, especially if you have flu or other serious illness.
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