55 answers

I'm Sick, Can I Still Breastfeed? - South Lake Tahoe,CA

I have come down with a cold or maybe it's the flu, but I'm wondering if it's still safe to breastfeed my 4 month old while I'm sick, or should I be using some of the expressed milk I've frozen in the past - I don't have very much at all. Will I pass my cold/flu on to my daughter while breastfeeding? It's so hard being a first time mom - always so many questions! Thanks in advance!

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You can breastfeed through a cold. You do have to be careful about any medication you take though. I really recommend Parenting and Breastfeeding Services. They have lactation consultants that have invaluable knowledge and experience. They have supported me through two very different little ones. http://www.parentingandbreastfeeding.com/

1 mom found this helpful

I had a cold while breastfeeding my newborn. My midwife advised me to keep breastfeeding and not worry about it. The baby gets a big dose of antibodies. My son never did get my cold.

Hi A.,
Sorry you're sick! Continue to breastfeed. I had the flu and doc said it actually builds the baby's immune system. I hope someone is giving you extra help so you can rest and feel better. Take care!

More Answers

Hi A.-
As always, if you have health concerns, it is best to ask your doctor or whomever you seek guidance from. But here is what I experienced and take it for what it's worth:

-I had a terrible flu which I first thought was food poisoning (but was very very dizzy too). An ER nurse said don't feed my baby (which listening to my baby cry from hunger and not being able to do anything as I was out of control, at a friend's home, couldn't drive, etc- was the worse thing I have ever experienced). My midwife then got back to me and said it was fine. So I breastfed and my daughter never ever got sick. I have been sick a few times since then and have breastfed through them all. She has been very very healthy throughout it all, never contracting anything. But you need to go with what feels right to you. As always, contact your trusted health practitioner if you have questions. Also, Dr. Sears' BABY BOOK is a great resource that goes into detail about a lot of things, especially this. He is a pediatrician but has a more open approach. If you want a great alternative book. Aviva Romm's NATURALLY HEALTHY BABIES AND CHILDREN is a really great resource too. Good luck and hope you feel better!

(PS- Oh, and if you can get your partner to do a lot of things while you are sick, including taking care of your baby, it is best as it will expedite your healing time. Even the first day you start to feel better, just rest. It will cut that lingering cold down a lot). Happy healing!

2 moms found this helpful

YES! Still breast feed so your baby will get your antibodies and not get sick too! www.kellymom.com and La Leche League's website are great resources for breast feeding questions. LLL makes a great book called "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" - very helpful, in case you think your supply get low, or you get plugged ducts, etc.

1 mom found this helpful

it's absolutely safe and the best thing for your baby's immune system so keep on nursing!! it will actually help her from getting sick. good luck and i hope you feel better soon.

1 mom found this helpful

You can breastfeed through a cold. You do have to be careful about any medication you take though. I really recommend Parenting and Breastfeeding Services. They have lactation consultants that have invaluable knowledge and experience. They have supported me through two very different little ones. http://www.parentingandbreastfeeding.com/

1 mom found this helpful

NO, you cannot communicate a cold or flu through breast milk - if that were so, babies would be going hungry and starving to death every time a nursing mother caught a little bug! If she does get sick, it is because she has caught the virus from you via airborne particles.
Wash your hands OFTEN, and before you touch her - but chances are, she will get sick as she has to be held to you to breast feed and is breathing the "contaminated" breath as you breathe, and nurse.

Hi there,

Keep up the good work breastfeeding! I had a bad stomach flu (ick!) when my daughter was a few months old, and kept right on breastfeeding. My daughter never got sick. Hope you feel better very soon! The worst part is being sick and not being able to take a break. Hang in there, and take care of yourself. :)

H.

A.,

Breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your little one! Our bodies produce antibodies when we're sick to fight off germs and bugs. Babies bodies don't produce them like we do, but she'll get your antibodies through your breastmilk .

There's a great website that has kept me breastfeeding sane many times: http://www.kellymom.com/ . It has answers for everything and a great forum. Good luck and feel better!

You can absolutely continue breastfeeding, and if anything it will make your daughter healthier. You have a greater chance of passing your virus to her through the air you share than through your milk. However, you have a good chance of passing your antibodies to her through your milk, giving her a sturdier immune system. Go for it, it will also make you feel better - the oxytocin from breastfeeding will counteract the yucky flu doldrums.

Cold/flu germs need to be breathed in or need direct contact to spread. Breastfeeding is fine and your baby will actually benefit from the antibodies your body develops in getting better from your cold. No need to use expressed milk or stop breastfeeding your little one. Do wash your hands often and try not to breath directly on your daughter's face and definitely no kisses on the mouth or her hands to try to keep her from your cold. However, she is likely to get the cold no matter ho careful you are, but since she will benefit from the antibodies in the breastmilk and should not be sick too long. Good job, A.!

Hi A.,
Sorry you're sick! Continue to breastfeed. I had the flu and doc said it actually builds the baby's immune system. I hope someone is giving you extra help so you can rest and feel better. Take care!

I've been sick twice when my daughter wasn't and she didn't get it either time. Breastfeeding passes the antibodies your body makes against the illness on to your little one so they are less likely to get sick.

Hope you feel better soon!

it is fine for you to still breastfeed. I did when I was sick and I breastfed my son till he was 13mo. Its the best thing for them. :) But you can always call your Dr. to reasure yourself. Good Luck!

YES! The breastmilk you are creating is full of antibodies to keep the baby healthy. The only time you shouldn't breasfeed is if you are taking a medication that passes on in breastmilk and could harm the baby. Otherwise, feed away!

Your breast milk contains antibodies to the illness that you have. You are actually helping your child not become sick by breast feeding.

Yes you can. You will pass on your immunities to your baby--not your cold. I breastfed while I had the flu and my baby didn't get sick at all.

When you're sick, you should not stop breastfeeding. That's the most important time TO breastfeed. There's lots of antibodies that your body has made to your cold and you can pass all of those extra good antibodies to your baby. It will also help protect your baby from your cold to have those antibodies! I was really sick when my son was a couple of weeks old and continued to breastfeed and he didn't get sick at all! Take care!
A.

Don't worry sweetie,
Just keep your strength up by getting extra rest (not easy at this stage of things I know)but your breast milk is rich in immune boosting nutrients The collostrum has been introduced from the initial nursing, and is a protection for your baby that continues. Your milk and whatever your pediatrician is letting you feed the wee one besides it will keep her well.

Andrea Siebert
Mom etc.

My doctor told me that it is fine. I don't think the baby can catch the cold or flu through breastmilk.

yes, keep breast feeding. Just wash your hands often and try not to breath directly onto your baby. You can't pass "germs" through breast milk, and you are providing immunities to your baby.

Yes, nursing will help protect your baby as your antibodies will be passed through your milk. Just be extra careful with handwashing & kissing.

Hope you feel better soon!

The BEST thing you can do is to keep breastfeeding. Your body produces antibodies when you are sick and those get passed to your baby. The chances are bigger she will stay healthy if you breastfeed her while sick.

My experience nursing DS1 for 15mos and DS2 for 18+mos is that each time the entire family comes down with a yucky bug the nursling and I are the first to be healthy again. DH jokes that we must have some sort of antibody chemistry lab going that "teaches" our systems to overcome whatever one or the other of us is challenged with on the germ front. Please keep nursing and remember to drink plenty of fluids!

You're fine to keep breastfeeding. The body is a wonderful thing, and is designed to not pass your virus through your body to hers. Even better, the milk will provide vital immunities to her, to help her not catch your cold/flu. In fact, if you get mastitis, an infection in your milk ducts, even that can't be spread--and nursing even helps to clear it up. Thought you might like to know, in case you develop mastitis in the future. Hope this helps!

Definately you can if you are feeling able. You don't want your milk supply to lower and your baby will be fine!

Yes, breastfeed!

You wont pass your illness to your baby through your milk. You will pass antibodies to her so she may not catch it at all.

Just to clarify: you can breastfeed while you have the stomach flu as well. There are very few reasons to stop breastfeeding, none that are due to mom being sick that I am aware of.

Keep nursing!! It's actually good - all the antibodies that your body makes to fight the cold/flu are passed on to the baby through the milk, so you're strengthening the baby's immune system by having a cold/flu and nursing. I always nursed often when I was sick so that the baby would get all the good antibodies. Your doctor would verify this if you call him/her.

Try to wash your hands often and not to breath on her - all the regular stuff, so that you don't give her the cold.

Don't worry - and get better soon!

Yes you should still breastfeed (although you may not have much energy to do it), your baby will get antibodies through the milk and it my keep your baby from getting sick too. I hope you are feeling better soon, that is so hard to be sick and have to take care of your child/ren too!!

As far as I understand, yes absolutely! You'll probably be passing along the antibodies you've generated to your cold, so it's possible that you'll actually be improving her immune system even though you have a cold. You could check a question like this on the La Leche League website--I'm sure it's a common question. But my gut says yes, absolutely. I'm sure that mothers have had colds and been nursing their kids for millenia. You also don't want to do things right now that will threaten your supply if you can avoid it. Good luck!

Definitely. You won't pass on your sickness through your breastmilk and you will actually be giving her some valuable antibodies to help fight a cold or flu next time.

Yes, you can keep breastfeeding your baby. You should probably check with your doctor on what you have that way you can get rid of your sickness faster. There are certain things you can still take while breastfeeding so check with your doctor. Also, drink plenty of liquids (hot tea is good) and rest when your baby is resting!

Hi A.! I see you have gotten plenty of responses, saying what I am going to say, but I know it helps when you hear a lot of the same thing, when you are trying to make a decision! When my son was about 2 months old I got the flu (cold kind) with a fever of 104 and my MD told me it was perfectly fine to keep breastfeeding my son. I did, and nothing happened :-) Good luck, and I sure hope you are feeling much better!

J.

yes - you can breastfeed as your baby will get the antibodies your body is producing to fight the cold. in fact, from my understanding, it's probably more likely that you'll make her sick if you DON'T breastfeed.

A.,
definetly safe....your baby will get antibodies that are made by your body in the breast milk to fight off your own cold/flu and protect your baby! Hope you feel better soon....it sucks being sick!
M.

Yes - continue to breastfeed - the antibodies in the milk will help protect your baby from what you have.

you can definitely still breastfeed her. You'll even help keep her healthy by passing your antibodies onto her. Just be careful not to cough or sneeze near her and keep washing your hands! Hope you feel better soon.

Yes, please do continue. Your daughter will mostly likely catch what you have, but you will also be giving her some of your antibodies through your milk so she should get a lesser case of what you have. If you have the flu though I think they advise you not to... if it's a cold just go for it.

A.,
Congrats on your little one.
Yes , you can still feed while sick. I was so ill with cold and 'flu when my son was six week old, MY husband had to force feed me as I did not want to eat, but baby needed food. It is hard but it worked out okay. Get well soon,
Y.

Hi A.- You should just keep breastfeeding as normal. Not only is it OK, your baby will not catch your bug through breast milk, but it's important. If you stop suddenly (especially with your immunity down due to sickness) you can get engorged which can lead to mastitis (breast infection). Just do the best you can to get lots of rest (I know kinda hard with an infant but try!) drink lots of fluids and nurse as usual. Try to get someone to help with your daughter so you can get some real sleep. Good luck and feel better soon!

Yes you can totally still breastfeed. In fact while you are sick you will pass your immunities to your little one, not the germs.

Keep at it A...it was later as my son weaned that he started to catch some bugs, while I breastfed he got the benfit of my body reving up for the fight.

A good idea to pay attention to washing hands, and things like that, that would be a transmitting risk.

Oh and keep up the fluids and good food (f you can wrangle someone into making actual chicken soup for you fantastic...it will do a world of good, stay away from the salty canned stuff)..your body will need it...it's working hard!

Feel better!

Yes you can!!! It is safe to breastfeed, and will keep your supply up for when you're not sick anymore. She might get your cold anyway, if it is transmitted by touch or airborn particle, but you don't need to worry about it getting to her via milk. She'll probably be fine!

I was REALLY REALLY sick when my son was about 2.5 months old (104+ fever for 3-4 days), and he was fine and hungry the whole time.

from all my wife and I have read, unless you have HIV, you should be able to keep breast feedind.

Keep breastfeeding. They can benefit from the antibodies in the milk. Odds are your child will catch your cold anyway from contact but they do not "catch" colds thru the milk. Keep drinking lots of fluids because your milk supply can decrease if you are dehydrated. It will really drop if you stop breastfeeding. I worried about the same thing.

It is okay to feed while you have a cold or the flu, or so I've been told. However if you have the stomach flu, I would be a little more cautious as everything you ingest is used to make your breastmilk and if you have a bug like that it might transfer to your baby.

hope that helps
K.

I had a cold while breastfeeding my newborn. My midwife advised me to keep breastfeeding and not worry about it. The baby gets a big dose of antibodies. My son never did get my cold.

I remember asking the same question when I was sick and nursing my first son... And the answer as I recall is - yes...you can still breastfeed if you are sick. You are still passing on antibodies in your breastmilk that are beneficial for the baby... Just be careful as far as kissing and doing other things to pass germs to baby. But breastfeeding is okay, and none of the germs or illness will transfer to baby through your breastmilk.
BTW - I also have a 4 month old.... hope you are doing well otherwise!!!

Acutally its just the opposite! I have heard that when you are sick since you are inevitably around your baby it is better to breastfeed because you pass on the antibodies or whatever they need to fight it, and if they do get it, your milk will be the best resistance since the things your body uses to fight the cold are in teh milk too.

Now is actually the most important time to breastfeed, because you will pass on antibodies to your baby, that will prevent her from getting your flu from you. You can't pass on the virus through breast milk.

Yes, yes and yes. It will give your baby help with immunities your body is building to fight whatever your illness is.

A.,

I hope you feel better soon! Continue to breastfeed. It is best for both of you and it builds your baby's immune system.

M.

Sooo sorry your sick. No, your baby will be fine. Sometimes your baby will be fine at YOUR expense though, so be sure and stay hydrated.

You can still breastfeed while you are sick. Continuing to breastfeed will help protect your baby from the infection because your body produces antibodies to the specific bug that is causing the infection. When breastfeeding, you pass the antibodies to the baby in your milk.

M. *~

Yes you can, in fact I've heard that doing so can pass on antibodies to your child. I can also tell you this...I got a bad flu while nursing and breastfed my son literally in bed every time and then my husband would tend to him between feedings. My son NEVER got it, I was amazed. Here I was breathing in his face (as much as I tried not to) and still, he didn't get sick. What I will caution is that you have to be careful that while you're sick you don't take any medications that can be harmful to him. Stick to the stuff you used while you were pregnant, anything else and I'd ask your doctor first.

You'll actually give her your antibodies to fight the virus if you breast feed her. Just keep your hands extra clean and don't kiss her face & try not to breathe on her.

You can still breastfeed. I've read that you can't pass colds and such that way. Just handling your baby though can expose her to your cold / flu, so be sure to wash your hands. I have breastfed both my boys while having a cold with no problem. Hope you feel better!

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