Breastfeeding With A Cold or Flu

March 27, 2012
Breastfeeding With A Cold or Flu

Being sick can really put a damper on your breastfeeding routine; however, in most cases, you can continue breastfeeding with the flu or a cold. So relax. There’s one less thing you need to worry about.

Why is it safe to continue breastfeeding while sick?

Breastmilk 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 before you showed symptoms. So, just think you’re giving your baby the best chance to fight it off. On top of breastfeeding, make sure you still wash your hands often, avoid coughing or sneezing near them and put those kisses on hold for a few days (we know that can be tough).

When shouldn’t I continue breastfeeding?

Very few illnesses can be passed on through breastmilk, however it’s always best to check with your doctor to confirm. Some of these illnesses include HIV and septicemia (bacterial infection that has entered the bloodstream).

It’s important to note that not all medications to treat the cold and flu are compatible with breastfeeding. When speaking with your doctor, be sure to inform him or her of your wishes to continue breastfeeding. Also, contact your doctor before taking any new over-the-counter medications.

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

It is common for a mother’s supply to decrease while she’s ill, but typically it returns to normal once she is well. While you’re sick, continue to practice common tips to increase supply such as eating well, staying hydrated and pumping or breastfeeding often. This will help you maintain your supply throughout your sickness.

What was your experience breastfeeding with a cold or flu? Share in the comments below.

26 thoughts on “Breastfeeding With A Cold or Flu

  1. About a month ago, my husband and I were both very sick with a terrible cold… I even had a fever for two days. I was miserable but I continued to breastfeed as usual. I was scared because I just knew my baby boy (2 months old at the time) would be catching his first cold. However, he never became ill!! I truly believe it was due to prayer and breastmilk!

  2. I had the Norovirus and was bedridden for 5 days. My son was 7 months and still breastfed. I spoke to a midwife who told me to STOP feeding him! She didn’t even tell me to protect my milk supply and express. I now know her advice was completely inappropriate and it led to my milk supply dropping to next to nothing. So much so my son (who had been given formula by now) was frustrated when I tried feeding him when I was feeling better.
    I’m still breastfeeding my second son at 11 months and have no plans to stop anytime soon. I just wish I’d have been given the right advice the first time round.

  3. I have 8 children, one is still an infant and I have nursed through every sickness. My most recent experience was with my now 5 month old daughter. A family member with “a cold” got her sick. I caught it too. The “cold” turned out to be RSV. She ended up in the hospital for a week.The docs told me that had I not been breastfeeding and sharing my antibodies with her she may have been sick for much much longer than she was.

    • We’re sorry your little one got so sick, but we’re happy breastfeeding helped prevent it from getting worse. Thanks for sharing your story and we hope your little one is feeling better now.

  4. I very rarely get sick, so when I got the same virus my husband was still getting over I knew it was bad. I wanted to limit my 9 month old son’s exposure to our illness so his grandparents traded out keeping him for two nights while I continued to pump. He lost his appetite a bit but never got sick. Everyone kept telling me they didn’t believe he should be drinking my milk but I stuck to my guns and said it was the best thing. Now that everyone is back to normal, they all get to see the power of breastfeeding while mom is sick. It wasn’t easy. I wanted to just lay in bed all day and night because I was so miserable. But I forced myself to pump at my normal times like I would at work. I have zero doctor bills for my son to prove I did the right thing.

    • Hi Stephanie – We’re proud of you for being so devoted to breastfeeding. Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. I have a bad cold right now and a one-month-old daughter. I will continue to nurse through this and keep my fingers crossed! There’s nothing worse than a sick baby…

    • Hi Kelly – Hang in there! We’re happy to hear you’re continuing to breastfeed. We hope you feel better soon.

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