I think we can all agree; it is the most unjust thing for moms to get sick. It’s difficult being sick as is, but being sick and being a mom? That’s simply unfair.
Should I continue breastfeeding while sick?
Now, you may wonder: should I continue breastfeeding when I am sick? The answer is a resounding “yes.” In fact, your baby is more likely to get sick if you withhold breastfeeding. Breastmilk provides antibodies specific to your illness, which will help keep your baby healthy. There are very few illnesses, like HIV or septicemia, where you wouldn’t breastfeed. Still, when you’re sick with just nearly every other typical cold or flu virus, you should continue breastfeeding.
It is common for breastmilk supply to dip for moms when sick. A supply dip while sick is mostly due to dehydration. Be sure to keep your liquid intake up. Also, be aware of what medications can cause a breastmilk supply dip. If your doctor prescribes medication, be sure to mention that you are breastfeeding so your provider can help you find what is best for your body.
Suppose you’d like to look further into what drugs and illnesses can affect baby while breastfeeding and breastfeeding itself. In that case, I recommend the CDC’s information and this website, which break down medications, conditions, and procedures.
Should I breastfeed baby when baby is sick?
The answer to this question is also a “yes”! The breast is kind of like a two-way valve. When breastfeeding, our body is introduced to bacteria and viruses found in a baby’s body. Your body then produces antibodies specifically for those bacteria and viruses and transfers them back to baby in your breastmilk. Now, don’t worry, when I say two-way valve, your baby can’t infect you through the breast.
Continuing breastfeeding while your baby is sick has several benefits:
- Comfort & rest
- Continued demand to keep breastmilk supply up
Now, if baby doesn’t want to eat, this is a natural reaction. You just want to make sure that baby has enough wet diapers. If you’re unsure if your baby is hydrated well enough, it’s time to reach out to your pediatrician.
Breastfeeding with COVID-19
You absolutely can and should continue breastfeeding and/or providing breastmilk for your baby if you contract COVID-19. Several scenarios may occur for breastfeeding with COVID-19. You may get COVID-19, your baby may get COVID-19, or both of you may have it. There are a few approaches, but the consistent advice is this:
- Wear a mask when breastfeeding or pumping for baby
- Wash hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol in it when washing isn’t an option
- Wash and sanitize all pump parts between uses
For more details on a variety of scenarios, be sure to check out the Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 & Breastfeeding webpage. It is kept current as new research emerges.