Breastfeeding With A Cold or Flu

March 27, 2012
Breastfeeding With A Cold or Flu

[Updated December 18, 2015]

Can I Still Breastfeed with a Cold or Flu?

Cold and flu season is upon us, which means many moms will soon start wondering if they can keep breastfeeding even when they’re under the weather. The good news is, in most cases, moms do not have to stop breastfeeding when they’re sick. In fact, being sick is even more reason to keep breastfeeding often!

Why is it safe to continue breastfeeding while sick?

Breast milk gives your baby the best protection against sickness. The protective antibodies it contains help your baby’s developing immune system fight off infection and illness. In most cases, if you have a contagious illness like a cold, flu or minor virus, your baby was exposed to it even before you showed symptoms. Of course, it’s still important to make sure you wash your hands often, avoid coughing or sneezing near your baby and put those kisses on hold for a few days!

When shouldn’t I continue breastfeeding?

It’s important to check with your doctor if you question what type of sickness you are experiencing, because although it’s generally safe to breastfeed or pump while sick, there are a few illnesses that can be passed on through breast milk. Some of these illnesses include HIV and septicemia (a bacterial infection that has entered the bloodstream).

Does cold medicine affect my ability to breastfeed?

Yes. You should definitely avoid over-the-counter medications that contain pseudoephedrine (a decongestant). If you need to take antibiotics or other prescription medications, just check with your health professional or Lactation Consultant to make sure they’re safe.

My supply dropped while I was sick. What can I do?

It’s common for a mom’s supply to decrease while she’s ill, but it should return to normal once she’s well. While you’re sick, continue practicing ways to increase milk supply like eating well, staying hydrated and pumping or breastfeeding often. This will help you maintain your supply throughout your sickness.

What happens to my breastfeeding routine if I need to be hospitalized due to illness?

Some hospitals allow breastfeeding moms to bring their babies to the hospital with them. If your baby can’t be with you, it’s important to pump on your usual feeding schedule. A hospital-grade (multi-user) pump like Medela’s Symphony is highly recommended.

What was your experience breastfeeding with a cold or flu? Share your story or tips for other moms in the comments below.


118 thoughts on “Breastfeeding With A Cold or Flu

  1. My wife if currently pumping only. we have the pump in style advanced. Does this device require any tune ups? Sometimes she said it feels like it doesn’t suck as hard. She cleans the accessories all the time as directed.

    • Hi Nick — Thanks for your question. If the suction doesn’t feel as strong as it once was, we recommend giving our customer service team a call at 1-877-633-3522. They’ll be happy to troubleshoot with you both. Thanks!

  2. Hi, my little one is almost almost eight weeks old. I have been running a fever of 101. (Varies) for the last two days. I have two older children who are in school (4yr old and 6yr old) who were sick last week with 102.9 and 100 degree fevers. OK is running 99 . (Varies). Is it a good idea for me to keep breastfeeding him or should I consult his doctor before I continue? I’m not sure if it’s the flu or not… Both older kids got over it within two days. Help please!

  3. My 3-month-old daughter was just diagnosed with a head cold. Is there anything that I can do to boost those germ-fighting antibodies in my breastmilk? I really want to eat more oranges! But will that and probiotics even help?

    Also, is there anything I should do to cleanse the breast before I pump? I don’t want the cold germs from her little mouth to infect the supply. My pediatrician told me that it is fine, but I just wanted to double check.

  4. i am currently sick with cold (rarely or never get flu) and have a bad cough which i passed on my 4,5 mo daughter. I have been trying hard to mantain supply and been pumping every two hours so that she could have regular smaller feeds. I think we are getting better now. She didnt cough much last night and my throat although still sore is feeling much better. I didnt take anything except for lemon/honey hot drink made at home, nasal saline spray, hot soup, and my usual supplements plus armaforce. My daughter had saline nasal drops, eucaliptus chest rub and herbal syrup to relief blocked nose. My armaforce and her syrup are base on echinecia. Still early to tell but i feel we have turned the corner. I have been dreading a mear though of her needing to be admitted to the hospital.

  5. I have a cold and I am trying to build up a reserve of breast milk (going on an over night trip w/out baby). Should I not pump the extra milk until I’m better or is that milk ok to freeze?

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