Having cold and flu is mostly familiar, and you do not need to be alarmed if your temperature doesn’t get too high. They can always be treated with medicine. However, when you are a mommy and start having flu or colds, you began to wonder if breastfeeding is a good idea especially when you are more concern about your baby’s health than yours. Would my baby get my illness? Would she/he be okay if I continue breastfeeding? Would my milk produce antibodies? Read through as you will be given the right information when and how to breastfeed when you have a cold or flu.
Is it safe for my baby?
The answer to this is YES. If you have the regular flu, fever, it is still safe to breastfeed your baby. In fact, you are more likely so save you infant from the virus and bacteria if you do. It is because, in four to five days, your body would also make antibodies that could help your infant through breastfeeding.
You should know that you are most contagious before the symptoms can be observed and that you already have exposed your child to whatever virus/bacteria you have. It is still advised, however, always to practice precautions such as washing your hands whenever you want to hold him, and keeping his/her hands away from yours, and not kissing your infant at least for few days during the flu or fever.
What are the exceptions?
While it is true that it is safe for moms to breastfeed their babies, there are three primary exceptions to this:
- When the medication you need is unsafe for your lactating baby, stop immediately. There is one way you can do: you can ask your doctor for medicinal alternatives that will not harm your infant. If you don’t have, you can always ask someone to nurse her/him.
- When your baby is less than three weeks old, you need not continue breastfeeding. Your infant is still very vulnerable to infection, and continue when you recover.
- When the mother is experiencing the symptoms of HIV and HTLV-1, she needs to stop breastfeeding (Lawrence and Lawrence, 2001). It is very rare for mommies to need to stop breastfeeding because of she’s sick. However, some illnesses require you to stop breastfeeding your baby immediately.
It is always important to check and ask for your doctor’s help about the type of sickness you are having and the causes of the flu or fever. Aside from HIV and HTLV-1, when you have septicemia, you are also not allowed to breastfeed.
How to nurse my baby while I am sick?
Believe it or not, breastfeeding your infant while you are experiencing sickness, would make you easier to rest. Here is what you can do:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before holding him.
- Make sure you are all cleaned.
- Tuck him into bed with you to nurse her/him.
- Ask someone to take him away once she/he gets into sleep.
Taking her/him away from you avoids more contact to virus and bacteria. If you are always with your baby, there is a greater probability of virus transmission.
What if I stopped breastfeeding during cold and fever?
When you stop breastfeeding, there is more chance of making your baby sick. You are not just depriving her/him right antibodies that can kill the virus and bacteria, but also the comfort and nutrition that are supplemented through nursing.
On the other hand, if your infant is sick and refuses to be nursed, read this article.
What happens if I substitute any food for breast milk?
Substituting foods for breast milk is also called weaning. Weaning abruptly is not a good idea, especially when you are experiencing discomfort due to illness. You are putting yourself in danger as you will experience engorgement and mastitis. Not just this, you will also experience emotional distress because you will create a distance between you and your baby.
How can I maintain my milk supply even if I skipped breast feedings?
It is a normal occurrence when you are sick, and you have a decrease in your milk supply. This should return to normal once the flu of fever is over. On the other hand, another reason for milk supply reduction is if you are too sick, you may inadvertently skip breast feedings. This lack of intimacy between a mother and child can potentially cause the reduction in your milk supply. To avoid this, you can:
- Have plenty of rest
- Drink water or any fluids often (staying hydrated)
- Pump often
- Eat three meals per day and snacks in between meals.
Read Tips to Increase Breast Milk Supply for more info.
Do cold medicines affect my breastfeeding ability?
The answer to this is YES. Almost if not all cold medicine contains a decongestant called 'Pseudoephedrine'. This is why you should avoid over-the-counter medications. On the other hand, if you badly need to take antibiotics, ask a Lactation Consultant or a health professional if the medicines are safe for your lactating infant.
What if I get hospitalized due to my illness?
If you get hospitalized, this should not affect your breastfeeding routine. Some hospitals allow their patients, especially mothers who have babies, to breastfeed. If your babies can’t be with you, you can always pump on your usual feeding schedule. You can use Medela’s Symphony, a hospital-grade pump.
Wrapping it up
Again, if you are experiencing a standard cold or fever, it is a better idea to breastfeed your infant, as you will supplement him with the antibodies that potentially kill the virus and bacteria. She/might not even catch the cold or fever either. If she/he does, your milk will provide the nutrition to strengthen her/his immune system.
You just need to make sure that when it is not necessary, don’t take cold medicines or try weaning. This can significantly affect not just your infant’s health but as well as yours too. Always remember that mother-child connection is needed by both of you, and no greater comfort can equal a mother’s touch to her infant.
I hope this article will be helpful to you. Please leave us your feedback in the comment box below, and be sure to share this with your friends, family and all mommies out there if you enjoyed it!