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Breastfeeding While Sick
Feeling a little under the weather? Exhausted, runny nose, coughing, drowsy or experiencing any other awful symptom that falls under the umbrella of ‘being sick’? It’s never a nice feeling, especially when you’re expected to feed your child every few hours.
Thankfully, not only can you breastfeed while you’re sick, but you absolutely should! There are actually heaps of benefits for you and bub – the body really is an amazing thing.
It is important though, to drink lots of water, eat nutritious meals and get as much rest as possible. This is when your family and friends need to step up and take care of bub while you regain your energy.
Can my baby get sick from my breastmilk?
No – whether it’s a cold, the dreaded flu, or something even worse like vomiting or diarrhoea, you should breastfeed as normal. If you are experiencing symptoms of mastitis, it’s also very important to keep breastfeeding and expressing – as this is the best way to get rid of it, painful as it may be. There’s no need to worry about your breast milk stream, as being sick won’t impact the flow.
It might seem counterintuitive, especially for new mums, but breastfeeding while sick is actually an effective way to transfer important antibodies to your baby. Its first job is to help protect bub from catching your bug, but even if they do catch it then those helpful antibodies will support their little system to fight it off faster and harder.
How can I protect my baby from getting sick too?
If you’re worried about spreading germs to your baby, here are some tips:
- Wear a mask while breastfeeding.
- Whenever you feel the sudden urge to sneeze or cough and there are no tissues within reach, do it into the crook of your elbow – never your hands!
- Keep some hand sanitiser on you at all times, and wash your hands with soap regularly – especially before and after feeding.
- If you’re really not up to breastfeeding, especially overnight when you need your rest, then pump and refrigerate your breast milk and let someone else (such as your partner) take over with a bottle feed. The Pigeon GoMini Double Electric Breast Pump is the perfect pump for any situation – it’s compact, lightweight and comfortable so you can pump and get right back to resting.
Can I use painkillers and prescription medications?
While it’s okay (and encouraged) to breastfeed during most common illness, it’s important to monitor any medication you’re taking. Speak to a medical professional or maternal health nurse if you are worried about it interfering with feeding or transferring to you baby.
Over-the-counter paracetamol is usually first choice for pain, but try to only take it for the shortest time possible. If you take ibuprofen, make sure you only take a minor to moderate dose, as small amounts of the drug do transfer into your breastmilk.
There are many different antibiotics and most are safe to use. Your health care professional will know what best to prescribe. Make sure he/she knows you are breastfeeding.
If you’re simply not comfortable breastfeeding while sick, that’s absolutely fine! Just be sure not to stop entirely. You’ll want to keep pumping while you recover to avoid the risk of mastitis and make sure you can easily resume breastfeeding when you are well again. We have a range of products available to help keep you going, including our new GoMini Double Electric Breast Pump to make pumping quick and easy.