Breastfeeding With A Cold
By Emily Berger | March 02, 2021
Many women worry whether it’s safe to breastfeed with a cold or flu. The short answer is yes - it’s safe and beneficial to breastfeed your baby when you are sick.
Don’t worry, mom! Even though you may feel terrible when you’re ill, continuing to breastfeed your baby is one of the best things you can do to protect her. Whether it’s a cough, cold, flu, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal problem, breast milk contains antibodies that help fight infections, and these antibodies are passed onto your baby when you breastfeed.
Will breastfeeding my baby when I’m sick make her sick?
The fact is, if you’re sick, there’s a chance your baby is going to catch it too. Colds are often contagious even before you start to show symptoms. Breastfeeding with a cold or flu is actually one of the best things you can do for your baby to prevent her from getting sick. The composition of your breast milk changes when you’re ill. This helps protect your baby and can speed her recovery if she does catch your cold.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Disinfect surfaces
- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
- Wear a mask to shield your nose and mouth when close to baby
- Continue to sanitize breast pump accessories
What cold medicine can I take while breastfeeding?
It’s important to look after yourself when you’ve got a cold or flu - this is true whether you’re breastfeeding or not. But breastfeeding is a lot of work, and if you add illness on top of that, it can be very stressful and tiring! Get help with the baby when you’re able. And if you’re looking to take cough or cold medicine while breastfeeding, you’ve got some options.
While nursing, you should always discuss medications with your doctor because every situation is unique, but in general these medications are safe to take while breastfeeding:
- Antihistamines, but some (such as Benadryl) may cause drowsiness in your baby
- Decongestants without pseudoephedrine, which can decrease milk supply
- Flu vaccine
Some medications can decrease milk supply. Check out our blog post on how to increase your milk supply. if you notice a drop due to medications or because of your illness.
Safe and natural cold rememdies for nursing moms
First of all, drink lots of clear fluids to stay hydrated. Warm beverages, like tea or broth, can help your body recover from illness, and also soothe a sore throat.
Rest, rest, rest. When you have a baby, this isn’t always possible (being a mom is a 24/7 job after all), but if you can, get some help so your body has a chance to recover.
Vitamin C can boost your immune system - but don’t overdo it (too much can cause diarrhea, heartburn, headache, insomnia and more)! Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit contain lots of vitamin C, as well as tomatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli.
Zinc is also a great way to bolster your body’s defenses. Foods like turkey, beef, pork, eggs, yogurt and oatmeal have lots of zinc.
Use a humidifier to reduce dryness in the air which can make a cough worse.
If your nose is blocked or dry, saline sprays or rinses can help clear it and keep it moisturized.
Breastfeeding a sick baby
If your baby becomes ill, it’s absolutely safe and important to keep breastfeeding her. If your baby is having trouble keeping foods down, breast milk may be one of the few things that she can tolerate. And drinking breast milk can actually help her recover faster!
You may have to adapt the way you breastfeed when your baby is under the weather. A blocked or stuffy nose can impede suckling, so your baby may prefer shorter sessions. If your baby goes on a nursing strike, try using hand expressed or pumped milk to encourage her back into the routine.
If you have questions about pumping or choosing the right pump for you, we’re here to help. Call us at 888-977-2229 or text us at 419-740-4306.
About the Author
As a Medical Documentation Specialist at 1 Natural Way, Emily Berger works with doctors' offices on moms' behalf to get prescriptions for breast pumps, pump supplies and other insurance-covered products. A few years ago, as she prepared to welcome her second child, Emily joined online communities of moms to discuss the joys and challenges of breastfeeding. Grateful for the information and support she received, she decided to pay it forward in posts. In her spare time, Emily enjoys baking and spending time with her family.