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Are you worried about breastfeeding your baby when you’re sick?

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed or that you may make your baby sick too.

And you know what Mama it’s ok to have a good cry about it. Grab those tissues and let it all out.

When you’re feeling run down your head is all over the place and breastfeeding your baby on top is a lot to cope with.

Can a Sick Mom Breastfeed her baby?

The great news is that in most cases breastfeeding will be beneficial for both you and your baby when you’re sick.

Your body will actively make antibodies to protect your baby. These will pass through your breastmilk like Mother Nature’s very own little vaccine with every feed.

The next step is for you to consider what changes you can make to your lifestyle to continue breastfeeding until you recover.

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Breastfeeding when mom is sick

10 Tips for Breastfeeding When Mom is Sick

1. Keep Breastfeeding

Unless you’ve been advised to stop breastfeeding due to medication or treatment, or your baby is vulnerable – Keep on breastfeeding.

The truth is that your baby has most likely been exposed to anything contagious for 1-2 days before you started to show symptoms.

When you’re sick you’ll worry about your milk supply going down.

Regular feeding is the best way to prevent this. That’s why it’s so important to continue feeding as much as you can.

2. Avoid Breast Weaning

Weaning from the breast when you’re sick is not the best choice to make.

You’re probably thinking it will be easier to use formula so you don’t have to deal with feeding your baby as you recover.

Unfortunately, sudden breast weaning comes with a whole lotta issues such as:

  • Fullness discomfort
  • Mastitis
  • Unhappy Baby

Those two complications of breast weening will make you feel so much worse without feeling sick already.

Mastitis is a pretty serious condition and can lead to hospital admissions for fluids and iv antibiotics. That could mean a lot of money spent on hospital bills and possible separation from your baby.

The third issue was your baby will likely become much more restless if you suddenly begin to wean from the breast.

Some babies do not adjust well to using bottle teats if all they are used to is your breast.

Even if your baby does take to formula consider that you might have to get up and out of bed to make up bottles or heat them up safely.

I know you’d rather be staying in bed with your breastmilk ready to go and at the right temperature.

3. Keep Baby Close

When you’re sick the best way to recover is to rest and relax with your baby.

That means gathering up all the supplies you need and stay in bed or a little nook in the house.

Focus on lots of skin to skin, cuddles and responsive feeding.

Do this will help you to release lots of oxytocin hormone which will supercharge your milk supply.

Plus studies have shown that oxytocin helps to strengthen your immune system as it blocks the stress of illness. It can also help you to get a better sleep if you’re feeling exhausted.

You’ll get to spend lots of uninterrupted time with your baby and find that they’ll be a lot calmer and easier to care for than separating yourself and mostly letting others care for them.

4. Maintain good hygiene

When you’re sick it’s always recommended you follow good hygiene to stop anything contagious passing on to others.

If you are coughing or sneezing need baby use disposable tissues and discard uses tissues into a wastebasket each time.

Try to not cough or sneeze on or near your baby, particularly their face.

Always try to wash your hands after coughing or sneezing with warm soapy water.

You can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, however, limit this to 5 uses and then you wash your hands.

You may want to use a face mask to prevent the spread of germs, however, this isn’t necessary for most mild cold or flu-like illness.

Instead, try avoiding holding your baby close to your face or touching their nose or mouth with your hands.

5. Keep baby’s nose clear

Your baby may start to get a little snuffly if you’re ill. Their little immune system will be working overtime with your antibodies to make sure they don’t get ill.

It’s important to make sure that your baby doesn’t get totally blocked up as they need a clear nose to breastfeed.

You see, your baby breathes through their nose when they feed as their mouth should be full of boob.

As a mom, you’ll never go wrong with a nasal aspirator close to hand (this one is by far the best) for when your baby is sick.

If the thought of sucking up your babies snots grosses you out, then a good saline spray or a room humidifier (like this one) may help to ease congestion for your baby.

6. Use a silicone pump

Have you heard of a Haakaa pump?

These simple silicone pumps are amazing for quickly building a breastmilk stash with no effort.

Don’t let the word pump pout you off, they simply ‘catch’ the milk from your free breast. You literally have to suction it on and do nothing whilst you feed your baby on the other side.

Having that stash of breastmilk can come in handy for letting your partner feed your baby and give you a few hours extra rest.

7. Drink extra fluids

Whenever you’re feeling run down always go back to basics.

That means getting as much rest as possible and drinking water.

Keeping yourself hydrated when you’re ill and breastfeeding will massively help your milk supply remain high.

Dehydration will make you feel worse and will most likely lead to constipation too.

The symptoms of either of those conditions will make you feel awful.

So keep it simple and keep drinking.

8. Be medication aware

You’re probably worried about taking medication when your breastfeeding right?

Is it safe? Will It pass through your milk to your baby?

Simple pain relief such as Tylenol and ibuprofen are safe for you to take (as instructed on the pack) when you’re breastfeeding.

Also, most antibiotics are safe to take.

If your doctor prescribes any other medication remember to inform them you are breastfeeding.

There are some relief medicines you should not take (or at least discuss with your doctor) when your breastfeeding.

This includes:

  • Codeine
  • Decongestants
  • Aspirin

The Prescriber’s Digital Reference is a great resource. You can look up the safety of any prescribed or over the counter drugs and how safe they are for breastfeeding.

9. Take your vitamins

Your appetite is one of the first things to go when you feel sick.

The thought of eating something probably turns your stomach or makes your vomit as soon as it hits your lips.

When your diet isn’t at its best taking a multivitamin is a great way to get some nutrients into your body without much passing your lips.

Your body is amazing and will provide everything it needs for your baby from your milk. However, that means it takes from your supplies to give to your baby.

I highly recommend these multivitamins as they are easy on your stomach when you’re feeling unwell.

10. Gather Your Support

One of the best things you can do for you and your baby is to take it easy.

That means lots of rest.

If the thought of leaving the household for a few days gives you the fear then it’s time to gather your support.

That means asking your partner to do jobs that you usually would. Or even asking friends to bring around a cooked dish one night.

Your friends and family will be happy to help do an odd job here or there to help out.

If you’re unsure of where to start, check out my guide to 15 places you can get breastfeeding support.

Final thoughts

Breastfeeding when you’re sick can be hard.

I hope these tips will help make it a little easier for you and your baby.

If you found this article helpful and think it would help other breastfeeding moms, please share.

You got this Mama.