Can I keep breastfeeding while sick?

If you’re floored with the flu or just feeling a bit under the weather, you may wonder, “Can I breastfeed while sick?”. The short answer is yes, absolutely! Not only can you keep breastfeeding when sick, but you should.

Breastmilk is still the best food for your baby and breastfeeding when sick will allow you to keep up the production.

If you have a common illness like a cold, the flu or stomach flu, breastfeeding will not transmit the infection to your baby. On the contrary, your breastmilk will contain antibodies that your body has produced to fight the infection and they will help protect your baby too. There’s no need to be separated from your baby when you’re sick, since you’ve most likely already exposed them to the virus or bacteria before you even knew you were infected. Hand washing and other common hygiene measures will help protect your baby from infection.

When breastfeeding while sick is not recommended

In some rare cases, breastfeeding while sick is not a good idea, for example if you have HIV, tuberculosis or human T-cell lymphotropic virus. Nor is breastfeeding recommended if you’re getting treated for cancer. If you just have the common flu but feel too sick to breastfeed, try to express some milk and have another caregiver help you feed the baby. Expressing will help keep up your breastmilk production and prevent your breasts from getting engorged.

Taking medications while breastfeeding

It’s natural to feel hesitant about taking medications if you’re breastfeeding while sick but while it’s true that many medications pass into the breastmilk, only a few are not recommended for nursing mothers. Just be sure that your health care provider knows that you’re breastfeeding if you need a prescription medication. It’s always a good idea to check with them if you’re unsure about the safety of an over-the-counter treatment as well. Aspirin, for example, is not considered safe for babies, whereas ibuprofen and paracetamol are. Some medications are safe for the baby but could cause sleepiness and slow down your milk production. In general, medication is more likely to affect your breastmilk if it:

  • Is extra strength or long acting
  • Is designed to treat multiple symptoms
  • Is taken over a long time
  • Contains several active ingredients

Babies who are exclusively breastfed, younger than a month or lighter than other babies their age are more likely to be sensitive to medications in the breastmilk than others.

Something for your daily care?

Love is all you need and Multi-Mam Balm for protection.

Multi-Mam Balm protect nipples from drying and cracking and keeps the nipples in good condition.

Sore nipples while breastfeeding?

Multi-Mam Compresses has a direct soothing effect and support the natural healing process.