Breastfeeding With A Cold or Flu

March 27, 2012

[Updated February 6, 2018]

It’s that time of year again – cold and flu season. Breastfeeding moms may be asking two questions:  how do I keep the flu and cold germs away from my home? And, can I still breastfeed with a cold or flu?

Protect your Environment

The best way to prevent the spread of germs and viruses is to keep things clean. The CDC recommends washing your hands (a lot!) and cleaning and disinfecting the surfaces and items at home, work, or school that are touched most often. And that includes your pumping supplies! That’s why we’ve added a Breast Pump and Accessory Sanitizer spray to our Quick Clean family of products. Use it to safely eliminate 99.9% of bacteria and viruses – including H1N1 (Influenza A) and common cold (Rhinovirus Type 37) – on your breast pump parts and accessories, and on other surfaces that see a lot of traffic, like changing tables, counter tops, door handles, TV remote controls, and handrails. Better safe than sick!

Can I still breastfeed with a cold or flu?

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! You’ll help protect your baby (more on that below), and taking a few moments to sit back and nurse may give you some much needed downtime. If you are too sick to breastfeed or care for your baby, pump your milk and have a healthy caregiver feed your baby until your doctor gives you the go-ahead to nurse again.

Note: If you have a newborn and are in a health care setting and have been positively diagnosed with the flu, the CDC has recommendations that may guide your health care provider in caring for you and your breastfed baby:  

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!

Does cold medicine affect my ability to breastfeed?

Yes. Some medications may contain ingredients that can impact milk supply. If you need to take antibiotics or other medicine, just check with your doctor or Lactation Consultant first.

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

A mom’s supply may 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 breastfeeding and pumping often, eating as best you can, and keeping hydrated. 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) breast pump like the Symphony is highly recommended.


What was your experience breastfeeding while sick? Share your story or tips for other moms in the comments below.


126 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. Aide Arana says:

    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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