Breastfeeding With A Cold or Flu

March 27, 2012
Breastfeeding With A Cold or Flu

Can I Still Breastfeed with a Cold or Flu?

Updated December 2015

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.


96 thoughts on “Breastfeeding With A Cold or Flu

  1. I got the flu a week ago. Fever lasted 5 days. I continued breastfeeding the entire time I was sick. He wanted to nurse more often every two hours. I was so worried he would get sick. I drank so much gatorade powerade and water and continued on. My baby never got sick. Luckily no one else in my house did. I’m so relieved by that.

  2. Trying to get over a cold now. I noticed both breasts have gone down in size 🙁 not completely over it but feeling much better:) hoping my supply will perk back up soon

  3. My almost 7 mo is sick, now I’m sick – we hope our 2 year old doesn’t get sick but he’s already got a runny nose. Happy that I can at least breastfeed – I’ll probably hit urgent care tomorrow but gosh, what a way to ring in the new year

  4. I have the flu with stomach bug i am still breast feeding no sign that my 6 mth old is sick though i hope it stays that way.

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