why and how to breastfeed while sick
’Tis the season for colds, flus, and other nasty bugs. But the good news is, even if you feel lousy, you don’t have to stop breastfeeding. In fact, with a few rare exceptions, it’s actually better for both you and your baby that you keep breastfeeding while sick. Here’s why and how to do it successfully:
If you have a something contagious like a cold, your baby has already been exposed, likely before you even realized you were sick. Breastfeeding won’t spread the illness to your baby, but your antibody-rich milk might help your baby from getting sick. For instance, the CDC says that breastfed infants are less susceptible to infections compared with infants who aren’t breastfed. Breastfeeding consistently also helps you maintain your milk supply, and gives your infant a familiar source of comfort and nutrition.
Check your medication
If you opt to take medication, check with your baby’s pediatrician (not your obstetrician) to make sure that it’s safe to take while breastfeeding. The Infant Risk website is a good resource as well, which can help inform your discussion with your pediatrician. Don’t be surprised if your milk supply decreases while taking certain medications like Benadryl. It’s more important than ever to stay hydrated and breastfeed regularly to combat this and to talk to a Lactation Consultant if your supply stays low after an illness.
Feeding a sick baby
If your baby does get sick, you should still continue to breastfeed. Breast milk is easy for a baby to digest and very comforting. (Here are some tips for helping a congested infant breastfeed more comfortably.) Also, nursing frequently will provide your little one with more antibodies and keep up your milk supply.
Parenting is exhausting, and it can be easy to continue to push yourself even when you’re sick. If you haven’t tried sidelying or the “laid-back” pose let, there’s nothing like an illness to try these restful breastfeeding positions.
Ask family and friends to pitch in with baby or childcare so you can rest up—and get back on your feet more quickly.