“Will my baby get sick if I’m sick?” – a question that can strike fear into the heart of any parent. Undoubtedly, there’s that sense of worry when you’re under the weather, wondering if nursing is still the best option for your little one. Here’s your comforting assurance: Breastfeeding when sick is not only safe but can be especially beneficial for your baby.
Breastfeeding When Sick Can Actually Help Your Baby
Breast milk is the best food for your baby, even when you’re sick. It contains all the nutrients your baby needs to stay healthy and grow strong.
One of the most amazing things about your body and your nutritious milk is that it contains all of the really important illness fighters (antibodies) that your body makes. Because your baby is breastfed, your baby is actually able to protect themselves from infection before even being exposed to it. Recent studies even suggest that a mother’s milk changes composition to increase its ability to fight illness when either the baby or the mother is sick.
Tips For Breastfeeding While You’re Sick
It’s worth noting that when you’re not at your best, your body’s energy sometimes prioritizes healing over secondary processes, such as milk production. This might lead to a temporary drop in your milk supply. Continue feeding your baby across the day, as this can help maintain your established milk supply. If that’s challenging, you may decide to pump instead—for whatever feels most comfortable with your current state.
Your sweet baby may be asking for feedings more frequently during the time because they have noticed a drop in the routine volumes they are used to. This is a natural way to help keep up your supply.
Here are some more tips for breastfeeding when you’re sick:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before and after breastfeeding.
- Wear a mask while breastfeeding, especially if you have a respiratory illness.
- Avoid kissing, coughing, or sneezing on your baby.
- If you have a fever, take Tylenol or ibuprofen to reduce it.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Get plenty of rest.
- If you’re too sick to breastfeed, you can pump your milk and have a healthy caregiver feed it to your baby.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for You and Your Baby
Breastfeeding has many benefits for both you and your baby. For babies, breastfeeding can help to:
- Reduce the risk of ear infections, diarrhea, and pneumonia.
- Protect against allergies and asthma.
- Promote healthy brain development.
- Help to maintain a healthy weight.
For mothers, breastfeeding can help to:
- Reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
- Help to lose weight after pregnancy.
- Reduce the risk of postpartum depression.
- Strengthen the bond between mother and baby.
Our sound and hearty advice is—KEEP NURSING. Remember, you’re doing a wonderful job in providing unparalleled protection to your baby—even more so when you’re not feeling so great yourself. Stay reassured and keep your channels open with your health practitioners as needed. After all, you and your healthcare team are partners, nurturing your child’s health journey hand in hand.
Check out our other resources for breastfeeding tips and resources:
Is My Baby Eating or Using Me as a Pacifier?
Follow Your Baby’s Hunger Cues
Decoding the Let-Down Reflex: Understanding Its Speed and Impact on Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Services at The Youth Clinic