Having a small baby and toughing out the cold and flu season can be incredibly tough! However, many women are surprised to learn that they can, and should breastfeed their babies while they have a cold or flu bug!
Take Care of Yourself
It is imperative that a nursing mother take good care of themselves while they are sick. This includes taking in adequate food and water, as well as getting plenty of rest and relaxation. A nursing mother should also remember to take her prenatal vitamins even if she’s sick, as her body will leach any vitamins and minerals the baby needs from the mothers muscles, bones and organs if they aren’t in abundance in her system .
Nursing while Sick is GOOD for your Baby
Nursing your baby while you’re sick is not only okay, it’s beneficial. A woman’s body produces antibodies to infections, which then pass into the breast milk and give the baby’s body secondary immunity, protecting the baby from the same viruses and colds that the mother is fighting off. This is incredibly important as infants are especially susceptible to becoming sick due to their immature immune systems.
Before taking medications, evaluate whether you really need the medications or not. If you’re able to avoid taking medications, then by all means, do so. It’s always better to avoid medications if possible. Before taking a medication, it’s important to find out whether its safe to use while nursing. Be sure to discuss the use of medications while nursing with your physician. If you must take medications, try to avoid anti-histamines, as they work by drying up fluids, including breast milk. Taking anti-histamines while nursing, can result in a lowered milk supply, which can lead to a plethora of problems breastfeeding.
Don’t Assume Herbal Remedies are Safe for Nursing
Not all herbal remedies are safe for nursing. Just as with medications, it is important to determine whether or not there are risks for a nursing infant when the mother takes them. Agains, consult with your physician before taking any herbal remedies.
If Your Baby Becomes Ill
If your baby becomes ill be sure to keep an eye out for fever. Fever is a sign of infection. In an infant under four months of age, any fever over 99o should be reported to your child’s physician, and any loose, watery, bloody or excessive (12 or more in a day) stools should be reported as well. Even if your child becomes ill, you should continue to nurse, as doing so will provide the best defense against your child’s illness! A fever can lead to dehydration, so ensure that your baby is nursing frequently. If they are feeding fine, then there is no need for electrolyte drinks such as pedialyte or gatorade. If your baby is nursing infrequently, having very few wet diapers, has a dry mouth, or is displaying listlessness, alert your doctor immediately.