Everyone knows that breastfeeding has endless benefits and is essential for the proper growth and development of babies. Many moms, however, often wonder whether or not it is safe to breastfeed if they or their baby are unwell. This guide is going to answer all your questions regarding breastfeeding if you or your baby are unwell.
If your baby is sick, breastfeeding is actually beneficial for them. Breast milk has protective properties and plays an important role in boosting your baby’s immune system. It is rich in antiviral and antibacterial elements that help protect your baby from diseases. As a result, breastfeeding your baby significantly lowers their risk of contracting infections, and it helps them recover faster.
If you are sick, breastfeeding should continue. This applies to almost any common illnesses such as cold, vomiting, diarrhea, or even mastitis. The only exceptions are some infectious diseases that can be transmitted from mother to child through breastfeeding.
Should breastfeeding continue when the baby is sick?
Breastfeeding when the baby is sick is beneficial to both you and the baby. It not only helps comfort them but also helps improve their chances of a quick recovery.
Breast milk contains white blood cells, antibodies, protective enzymes, and stem cells that fight infections, allowing your baby to have a speedy recovery. During the postpartum period, your body will be constantly adjusting the nutrient requirements and the vitamins needed to help in your baby’s development and to improve their health as quickly as possible.
Therefore, breast milk provides everything your baby needs. Not only is it a source of food and fluid but also a source of medicine and comfort.
When your baby falls ill, the composition of your breast milk changes. Your body makes antibodies when exposed to a viral or bacterial infection. These antibodies then find their way into your baby’s body through breastmilk. When your baby is sick, the levels of antibodies increase to help boost your baby’s immune system. For this reason, it is essential for your baby to continue breastfeeding if they are unwell. Breast milk is also easy to digest and is easy on your baby’s stomach. As such, it is the best food for babies with stomach upsets.
To ensure that your baby is completely comfortable, you may have to change how you normally breastfeed them. For instance, if your baby has a cold and as a result has a blocked nose, you may have to feed them for shorter periods, but more frequently. This is because when your baby has a cold, they may find it difficult to suckle as long as they usually would when healthy.
If your baby is struggling to feed, you could try experimenting with different breastfeeding positions, to find the position they are most comfortable with.
Sometimes when your baby is really sick, they may lose their appetite or the energy to breastfeed. If this is the case, you should consult your pediatrician or lactation consultant on the best way forward to keep your baby fed and hydrated.
Should breastfeeding continue when mom is sick?
Yes. Moms are safe to continue breastfeeding through almost any common illness. If you are down with a cold, vomiting, diarrhea, or even mastitis, you should continue breastfeeding as normal. Although it may be the last thing you feel like doing, continuing to breastfeed your child helps to reduce the risks of your baby contracting the same bug. The antibodies produced by your body will get into your baby’s body through breast milk, preventing your baby from catching an illness.
Continuing to breastfeed your child when you are sick is actually a good idea. Whenever in such situations, your baby is probably the least likely to catch your cold or stomach bug. Breastfeeding your child while sick ensures that your baby is getting a daily dose of protective antibodies from your breast milk.
As you breastfeed your baby, however, you shouldn’t forget to look after yourself. Breastfeeding while being sick can be very tiring, and you’ll need all the help that you can get. You should ensure that you are hydrated and well-fed so that you can keep producing milk and look after your baby.
Ask your partner, friends, or family to help care for the baby to allow you to get enough rest and focus on getting a quick recovery.
Breastfeeding your baby through your illness is also good for you. It helps minimize the risk of getting mastitis, which can be caused by stopping to breastfeed abruptly.
You should also maintain good hygiene while breastfeeding to avoid infecting the baby. You should cover your coughs and sneezes at all times and wash your hands before and after feeding the baby.
Is it okay to breastfeed while on medication?
You should always consult a healthcare professional before breastfeeding while on medication. However, it is fine to take paracetamol, ibuprofen, and some antibiotics while breastfeeding, provided you are following the proper dosage instructions.
Stronger prescription painkillers are not recommended. Some cold and flu drugs contain expectorants and decongestants which may reduce your milk supply.
It is very important to check with your healthcare professional or pharmacist before taking certain medications while breastfeeding. You should also be vigilant and check the packaging before taking any medication. Always let the doctor or pharmacist know that you are breastfeeding before you are given any prescription.
Is it okay to breastfeed while on long-term medication?
Breastfeeding is often still possible even if you are on long-term medication for conditions such as asthma, diabetes, depression, among other chronic conditions. In most cases, the benefits outweigh the risks of breastfeeding your baby while on these medications. However, you should discuss your condition with your doctor while pregnant. They will provide guidance on the safety of different drugs.
When should breastfeeding be avoided?
There are a few situations when the safest option is to stop or avoid breastfeeding your baby.
There are few infectious diseases such as HIV, measles, tuberculosis, septicemia, and HTLV-1 which can be transmitted to the baby through breastfeeding. In such cases, breastfeeding should be avoided.
If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment for cancer, you should also stop breastfeeding until your treatment is complete.
It is important to seek medical advice about your condition and whether or not it is safe to continue breastfeeding.
As you can see, it is almost always recommended to keep breastfeeding when mom or baby is sick. Breastfeeding not only strengthens the baby’s immunity and helps them recover from illnesses, but it is also beneficial to you as it can help prevent conditions such as mastitis, brought about by abruptly stopping breastfeeding.