Breastfeeding While Sick
Hey there! Lady attached to that (totally endearing) bright red, sniffley nose… Have I got a blog with your name on it!?
When you’re sick, to breastfeed or not, is a topic that triggers feelings of anxiety and prompts questions from new mums, such as… “Is my only option to proceed directly to quarantine?” or, “Will breast feeding spread my germs to my baby?”
Quite the conundrum…
Well, feel free to breathe a wheezy sigh of relief, because not only can you breastfeed while you’re sick, but you should! (There are actually heaps of benefits)
I know, I know, you feel about as charming as a mythical snot monster and the LAST thing you feel like doing is assuming the position of human-milk-machine… but, hey… that’s the gig.
Why We Say Yes?
Breastfeeding while sick is an effective way to transfer important antibodies to your baby. This helps protect them against catching your bug. If they happen to catch it anyway (sharing is caring), those antibodies will help support them to fight it off.
Being sick SUCKS! You’re tired, everything hurts, and it’s hard to tell if the next spontaneous cry will come from you or from your baby. Being sick AND breastfeeding is extremely draining (pun intended). Please, remember to LOOK AFTER YOURSELF! Drink lots of water, make sure you’re eating proper nutritious meals and GET SOME REST. Ask family and friends to lend a helping hand so you can catch a couple extra Z’s. It’s IMPORTANT.
If you are worried about spreading germs to your baby, here are some tips:
- Wear a mask while breastfeeding
- Wash your hands regularly! (Especially before and after feeding) or keep some hand sanitizer close by
- Catch your coughs/sneezes/sniffles in a tissue or in the crease of your elbow (not your hands)
- Pump and store your breast milk and let someone else take over with a bottle feed (We recommend Pigeon’s Electric Breast Pump Pro and the Pigeon SofTouch wide neck bottle for this *wink*)
While it’s okay (and encouraged) to breast feed through almost any common illness care-free, it is important to consider any medication you’re taking.
Over the counter painkillers (like Panadol and Nurofen) are fine, and even some antibiotics are fine too (just make sure you discuss this with a healthcare professional beforehand).
Aspirin in low doses are okay, however, higher doses should be discussed with your doctor.
It’s recommended that if on powerful prescription painkillers (codeine, endone etc.), that you refrain from breastfeeding.
Recommendations around these medications are regularly updated and should be specifically discussed with a healthcare professional.
There’s no need to worry about your breast milk stream, being sick won’t impact the flow. However, some cold and flu meds contain decongestants or expectorants which may affect your milk supply. Try avoiding the ingredients phenylephrine, phenylpropanolamine and guaifenesin.
(Maaaybe try sticking with the non-drowsy variety too… You can thank me later for this one).
If you’re choosing not to breastfeed at this time, that’s okay too! Just don’t stop abruptly. Keep pumping throughout to avoid the risk of mastitis (ouchie!).
Take care of yourself and we hope you get well soon!
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By Jodi Lee, 2019