[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.