Your body is a lactional force to be reckoned with, but nursing moms get sick too. Curled up in the fetal position, you want your mommy and are in no mood for diaper-changing, baby-burping, or being sucked on. To make matters worse, breastfeeding with fever can dehydrate you, making you feel awful.
I can’t send for your mommy. I can tell you that unless you are sick with an extremely dangerous illness such as HIV, you can continue to breastfeed. In fact, it’s recommended. If you are contagious, you were already exposing your baby to your sickness germs before you felt any symptoms. You can rest assured that breastfeeding through sickness is not subjecting your baby to illness.
Keeping Baby Healthy
Your breast milk is still full of antibodies, and actually contains antibodies related to your current illness. The best thing you can do at this point is to continue nursing. Breastfeeding and flu don’t seem to go together, but in this sense they actually do.
To limit your infant to exposure, wash your hands frequently with antibacterial soap and encourage others in the home to do the same. Before anyone touches or handles the baby, have them use baby-safe hand sanitizing foam or baby-safe sanitizing wipes.
Breastfeeding with Fever
Fever can cause dehydration, which can lead to breastfeeding issues such as a decreased milk supply. Dehydration can also cause dizziness, muscle cramps, headaches, and fatigue. While you are breastfeeding with fever, increase your fluid intake to avoid feeling worse and to keep your milk supply going strong. Adding Hydralyte Tablets to your water replaces electrolytes lost through fever and are safe to use while breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding and Flu
The CDC recommends that nursing moms receive a flu shot. Here is the full statement from the CDC on flu shots and breastfeeding/pregnancy. I am neither advocating for or against the flu vaccine. La Leche League has a Breastfeeding and Flu Vaccine Forum that can give you both sides of the issue.
Breast Milk and Medications
LactMed is a free online database listing over 450 medications. Information provided on LactMed includes levels of medications in breast milk, levels in the baby’s blood, affects on nursing infants and on milk supply, the level of compatibility of the drug with breastfeeding, and alternate drugs to consider. This database is updated monthly, so you can be sure that you are receiving the latest information. There is also a LactMed App available on iTunes and Google Play.
You can call the Infant Risk Center for questions about specific prescription or OTC medication interactions with breast milk. Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm CT (806) 352-2519
The American Academy of Pediatrics has also issued a publication “The Transfer of Drugs and Other Chemicals Into Human Milk” that addresses this issue.
Keeping the Nursing Mom Well
As we point out in the article “Breastfeeding Nutrition“, the process of milk production draws nutrients from the breastfeeding mom’s nutritional intake as well as body stores. If the mother is nutrient-deficient, she can be more suseptible to illnesses. Feed your body a varied diet to ensure that you are maintaining healthy levels of vitamins and nutrients. While sleep is hard to come by when you have a baby, take opportunities to sleep when your baby does. Being in a state of sleep deprivation is an invitation for sickness.
Other Breastfeeding Issues
The Nursing Mother’s Problem Solver addresses breastfeeding through sickness in addition to everything from latching to night feeding. Written in a question and answer format, this book is an excellent resource for any breastfeeding issues.