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Is it safe to Breastfeed when you are sick?

By Edited Nov 17, 2013 2 1

Is it safe to breastfeed when you are sick with a cold or flu?

If you have been breastfeeding and have come down with a cold or flu and are already showing symptoms then your baby has already been exposed to the virus since the actual symptoms typically come days after exposure.

So, yes, if your baby is more than a few weeks old it is safe to continue to breastfeed and is actually recommended because a mother's milk contains and passes on antibodies to their child which helps boost their immune system which in turn helps them to better fight off infections and viruses.

Is it safe to breastfeed if you have Breast Mastitis?

Breast mastitis is an infection that most commonly occurs in women during the first few months after birth. It can cause fever, chills and other flu-like symptoms.

Often, the onset of infection can be contributed to many factors but can in part be caused by bacteria actually carried in a child's mouth or nasal passages. So, it is ok and recommended that mothers continue to nurse with mastitis. Frequent breastfeeding from the infected breast or breasts can speed up the healing process.

Is it safe to breastfeed when you are sick with food poisoning?

According to the La Leche League International Breastfeeding Answer Book (www.llli.org) the bacteria from food poisoning "usually stays localized in her gastrointestinal tract and does not pass into her milk". This, in context means that it is "usually" safe to continue to breastfeed if you happen to be sick from food poisoning..

However, if the bacteria make its way into the mother's blood stream, that is a different story. So, if you want to play it safe instead of continuing to breastfeed while you are sick pump or hand express and dispose of the breast milk during the duration of the sickness.

My personal recommendation (for food poisoning) as a mother of four is to allow yourself 24 hours with no symptoms, to let your body heal – continuing to express and dispose of the potentially contaminated milk.

As with any of the above illnesses and infections or anytime you are sick, you want to make sure you keep your body well hydrated; this will help your milk production to stay built up and allow any potentially bad milk to get flushed from your system.

As with anything that can or does affect your health talk to your lactation consultant, doctor or pediatrician about any concerns that you may have about safe breastfeeding practices. They can give you options and more information on when it is or is not safe or recommended to breastfeed. At the end of the day though (from my own personal perspective) should a situation/condition arise that is listed as a safe illness to breastfeed during and you are not comfortable for any reason then don't breastfeed until you are better. There is nothing that says that you have to breastfeed during these bouts of sickness.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat, cure, prevent, diagnose or provide medical advice. For medical advice, treatment, prevention or diagnosis schedule an appointment or talk with your or a medical health professional.



Dec 11, 2009 3:35pm
This is an excellent artical, with good information. One of the great things about breastfeeding is the mothers abilities to provide ready made immunities/antibodies to her infant through her breast milk.
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