Breastfeeding With a Cold or Stomach Flu

How can you manage breastfeeding when you’re feeling so ill?


 

Last night you felt fine. This morning your nose is running, your throat is sore and you feel miserable. Or maybe you’re dashing to the bathroom every half hour to throw up again. You’re sick. But you’re also breastfeeding your baby. How can you manage breastfeeding when you’re feeling so ill?

 

 

 

 

  • First, don’t be concerned about passing germs on to your baby. You are usually most contagious before you have any symptoms, so if you were going to pass anything on, you already have. Continuing to breastfeed, though, will give your baby antibodies against those germs.

 

  • If your baby is not yet able to crawl or walk, you may just want to get in bed with him and spend your day nursing and resting. With a more mobile baby, you might want to try to find someone to help look after the baby so you can rest; he or she can bring you the baby at feeding times.

 

  • Staying hydrated is crucial, but not easy when you’re sick! Try sipping water throughout the day rather than trying to drink a whole cupful at a time. Adding a little fruit juice can help you absorb the water.

 

  • Be careful with over-the-counter medications. Those containing aspirin are not recommended for breastfeeding mothers (because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome in the baby). Decongestants containing pseudoephedrine can decrease milk production but those containing phenylephrine do not seem to have this effect. If you do see a decrease, discontinue the medication. Some other medications can cause the baby to be sleepier than normal.

 

  • If you are not able to breastfeed your baby (perhaps you are too ill to look after him, and the only potential caregiver needs to take the baby to another place), be sure to pump or hand-express to reduce the risk of plugged ducts and mastitis. When you are ill, you are more vulnerable to infection and it’s important to keep the milk flowing to prevent that and to keep the milk flowing.

 

  • Sometimes when women have a high fever, their milk supply decreases. In most cases, continued breastfeeding will increase milk production again. If you have difficulty increasing it, you could ask your doctor about domperidone, a prescription medication that can boost milk supply.

 

Do take care of yourself and get as much help as you can – and keep breastfeeding.

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