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. Help…I have a cold…I feel terrible….I have a 4 month old and I’m breastfeeding him…I pray that he doesn’t get sick because I will feel bad for both of our pain…so far he’s ok and pray that it stays that way…but I just feel like running my head into the wall right now because I feel so miserable…I prob would even feel it. This is the second cold I had for the year. The first time I was pregnant and miserable, now I’m breastfeeding and miserable…I couldn’t even tell u the last time I had a cold before I was pregnant…(Sigh) 🙁

  2. Back in March my then 2 month old son got RSV that turned into bronchitis I nursed throughout and thankfully he never ended up in a hospital. I credit breastfeeding. Now at 5 months we are both sick with a cold. I’m hoping that once again breastfeeding does the trick and we are both able to come out of this with no complications.

  3. I had a cold each time when breastfeeding my two sons & even though it’s tough to not be able to take the good stuff (over-the-counter) that makes you feel better, I continued breadtfeeding & did as much as I could to ease up my discomfort the natural way. I used saline drops, vaporizer, took steamy showers, tea & honey or just lemon, ginger, & honey. My dr ok’d Tylenol for fever & achiness. Washed & sanitized my hands often, ate right, drank plenty of liquids…until the cold ran its course. Baby was fine 🙂 the more baby nursed the more it helped maintain good milk supply while I had a cold. Just be patient, hang in there, & ask for help so you can get a bit of rest & TLC.

  4. Hello all. I have the flu and still have a fever. My 5month old (2months corrected) I am so afraid to be near her, more less nurse.
    my husband and I are looking for information that shows that it would be alright… As she is refusing formula 🙁

  5. I have a 18 day old baby and I am breastfeeding. I have tried all I can to keep me and the little from getting sick.
    I will continue to breast feed and just hope my baby does not get sick. It’s hard when I need to cough and sneeze but is feeding.
    I would regret it truly if I get her ill

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