Although germs are microscopic, they pose potentially serious threats to little ones. Moms may be concerned about breastfeeding during cold and flu season, and trust us, we get it! Read below to learn some tips and tricks for breastfeeding with the flu.
How Can I Avoid Getting Sick While Breastfeeding?
No one wants to get sick, but for a sleep-deprived, breastfeeding mom, getting the flu or a cold is the worst-case scenario at best. Thankfully, there are a few simple steps that can help keep mom and baby feeling 100 percent. First and foremost, babies over six months old and moms should be sure to get the flu vaccine. Not only does a flu shot protect against the flu, but breastfeeding moms who get a flu shot can also pass on protective antibodies to their baby through their breast milk. If your little one is under six months old, they can’t get a flu vaccine quite yet, which makes your breast milk even more important! The antibodies found in the breast milk of vaccinated moms are crucial in protecting babies younger than six months from the flu.
In addition to getting the flu vaccine, which is important for all family members that will be in close contact with an infant, simple steps, such as washing your hands before touching your little one, can help breastfeeding moms and babies stay healthy. Moms should look after their own health by prioritizing rest as much as possible, eating healthy, drinking enough fluids, and continuing to breastfeed or use a breast pump to make sure your baby gets the protective benefits of breast milk.
Should I Breastfeed If I Have the Flu or a Cold?
If you do come down with the flu or a cold, don’t panic, and don’t stop breastfeeding! According to the CDC, the flu cannot spread to infants through breast milk, so even if you are feeling less than 100 percent, your little one will still benefit from your breast milk. If you don’t feel well enough to feed your baby at the breast, just break out your breast pump and express your breast milk while you rest. Breast milk storage is straightforward and gives your loved ones who aren’t sick the chance to feed your little one while you recover.
While it’s true that using a breast pump gives you more flexibility for breastfeeding when you are sick, it is essential to clean your breast pump properly between uses. A clean breast pump leads to clean breast milk, which means your baby is getting valuable antibodies from your breast milk instead of germs from an unsanitary breast pump.
Can I Use Cold Medicine While Breastfeeding?
Good news for nursing moms who are feeling under the weather–many cold medicines are safe to use while breastfeeding. Common ingredients found in over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and dextromethorphan are all safe for breastfeeding moms as it is unlikely that a significant amount of these ingredients will transfer into breast milk. Certain influenza antiviral medications, such as oseltamivir, are also safe for breastfeeding moms, though your doctor will prescribe the best treatment for you.
Although many common cold medicines are safe for breastfeeding moms to take, there are a few remedies that should be avoided. Medicines that contain codeine should be taken with caution, and new moms should avoid zinc supplementation. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new cold medicine while breastfeeding, and monitor your little one after feedings to be sure any new medication does not cause an adverse reaction.
Will My Milk Supply Change While I’m Sick?
Milk supply may decrease when moms get sick or if they take certain cold medications, especially those that contain pseudoephedrine, such as Sudafed and Allegra. Feeling sick and struggling with low milk supply can add unnecessary challenges to breastfeeding moms. Be sure to stay hydrated and use a breast pump as often as possible to keep your milk supply going strong, especially if you are feeling under the weather. If you start to feel sick, check with your doctor to see if you are taking any medication that could negatively impact your milk supply, so you can produce enough breast milk to help your little one stay healthy.
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