If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you’re bound to come down with a cold at least once. Breastfeeding with a cold brings with it all sorts of questions.
What medications should I take?
Will my baby get sick if I breastfeed while I’m sick?
Should I continue to breastfeed?
This happens to pretty much every breastfeeding mom, so here are some simple answers to those questions.
Continue To Breastfeed
It’s SO important that you continue to breastfeed when you have a cold or if you’re sick. Even if your baby hasn’t come down with the sickness, they are already getting the beneficial antibodies in your breast milk.
Your breast milk is amazing stuff. It actually changes based on what you and your baby are exposed to in your environment. So, if you get sick, your breast milk has SPECIFIC antibodies to fight off that sickness! If you stop breastfeeding now, you’re actually putting your baby at more risk.
Your breast milk won’t transfer the sickness, but it WILL transfer the antibodies your baby needs to fight the sickness. So keep giving them that miracle milk!
There are a few exceptions to this, the most common one being HIV. However, HIV is a serious consideration and very different from the common cold. If you have the common cold, a stomach bug, or food poisoning, keep on breastfeeding your baby.
Sometimes if you have a cold, your milk supply will drop. This is a result of not eating and drinking well, stress and being tired. The most important thing to do is to keep breastfeeding even if your supply starts to drop. Once you are over your sickness, your milk supply will come back.
Take care of yourself, rest, and drink plenty of fluids. Doing these things will help you recover from your cold faster as well as keep your milk supply adequate.
If Your Baby Gets Sick
Your breast milk will start to make antibodies for your baby even if you don’t get sick. If your baby comes down with a cold, when they breastfeed they transfer the cold germs to your breasts. Your breasts actually respond to your baby and those germs and create antibodies to help your baby fight off the cold.
It’s so important to breastfeed with a cold… if your baby is the one with the cold! In addition to immunity benefits, breast milk offers fluids and nutrition that your baby might not otherwise get. It also gives your baby comfort during a stressful time and can give your baby pain relief!
Did you know that it’s easier for a sick baby to breastfeed that taking a bottle? This is especially true if your baby is accustomed to breastfeeding. Know that you’re making the best decision to continue breastfeeding if your baby has a cold.
Steps To Take If Breastfeeding With A Cold
If you or your baby has a cold, keep breastfeeding. Other than that, there are some things you can do until the sickness is gone.
- Wash your hands often. Hand washing is the most important way to prevent the cold from spreading. If either you or your baby is sick, be sure to wash your hands frequently. Washing your hands with soap and water frequently may prevent you from passing the sickness to each other.
- Avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby. If you want to, you can always wear a mask during the time you breastfeed. If you’re afraid of coughing or sneezing on your baby during a feeding, wearing a mask can keep the germs from passing to your baby.
- Don’t kiss your baby on the face or hands. If you or your baby are sick, it’s wise to not kiss them on the face or hands. Again, this can reduce the spread of germs and prevent you from passing it to each other.
- Keep your baby upright. If your baby is sick from a stuffy nose, breastfeeding them upright might help them breathe better by opening up their airways.
- Feed your baby in a steamy bathroom and use a humidifier. When your baby is sick, stuffiness can make feedings difficult. Try feeding them in a steamy bathroom, and use a humidifier in your house to help keep their airways moist.
- Use a bulb syringe before feeding. It may also help to clear out your baby’s nose with a bulb syringe before feeding. I’ve also seen products that allow you to suck the mucus out of your baby’s nose. Whatever product you use, try clearing their nose of some music before you try to breastfeed.
- Cold medications should be discussed with your doctor. Generally, Tylenol and Ibuprofen are safe for a breastfeeding mother to take. If you are wondering about other cold medications for yourself or your baby, speak to your doctor. Some medications are unsafe to take while breastfeeding because they’re transferred to your baby through your breast milk. If your baby needs medication, your doctor will have to write a prescription for the appropriate dose. Be sure to consult your physician if you plan on taking medications while breastfeeding with a cold.
There you have it! If you have a cold, the best thing to do is keep breastfeeding. Don’t be afraid to go to the doctor if you need to and in the meantime, rest up, take care of yourself, and get better!
Kealy is a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Counselor, and most importantly a mommy! Her own breastfeeding struggles gave her a passion to help moms throughout their breastfeeding journey. She offers one-on-one lactation consultations, breastfeeding classes, and shares her knowledge to equip and empower moms. If you’re interested in talking with her or taking one of her breastfeeding classes, visit www.littlebearcare.com.
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