It’s almost always okay (and actually beneficial) to continue breastfeeding while you’re sick. In some instances, you may want to take a brief break or “pump and dump,” but those situations are rare and should be discussed with your doctor.
Your body has an amazing capacity to transfer antibodies through your breast milk to your baby. These antibodies protect your baby from contracting whatever illness you have and can allow them to avoid the illness entirely. If your baby does catch something, chances are that it will be a mild case.
Dr. Catherine Dundon explains to Parents Magazine:
Believe it or not, people are most contagious before they even know they’re sick. So 12 to 24 hours before showing any symptoms, a mother has already exposed her baby to whatever bug or virus she’s contracted. Fortunately, the mother also forms antibodies to her illness in four to five days, which she passes to her baby via the breast milk. Since most viruses have an incubation period of five to seven days, the mother passes her baby the antibody protection before he can come down with anything.
If you have a cold, stomach virus or any other common illness, you should continue to breastfeed as normal. The only reason you may want to stop is if you feel too weak to feed your baby.
Be cautious of any OTC medicines or prescriptions you’re using to treat symptoms or infections. If you need an antibiotic, your doctor should be able to choose one that’s safe for breastfeeding moms. Always ask a doctor or pharmacist before you take anything to make sure it’s not going to affect your baby or your milk supply.
For the duration of your sickness, remember to stay hydrated. Increasing your fluids is important for any sick person, but it’s especially for nursing moms.
If you have any questions about breastfeeding or pregnancy, don’t hesitate to call your women’s physician. Contact All About Women at our Gainesville or Lake City women’s clinics today to schedule an appointment.