Breastfeeding While Sick: 5 Things You Need to Know

We’ve all been there. Whether you’re a first time mama or a veteran, you’ll eventually get sick. As we all know, motherhood is one job where you can’t just call in sick. You have to pull on your big girl panties and hit survival mode. What can be even worse is when you’re sick and breastfeeding. 

Breastfeeding While Sick: 5 Things You Need to KnowHere are 5 things you need to know about breastfeeding while sick:

1. You can’t take any medication.

Not all medications are safe while breastfeeding. Some medications can be harmful for baby by the medication getting into your milk. Some medication may cause a decrease in your milk supply. I have the most difficulty remembering what I can take when I start looking at combo medications for cold/flu symptoms. All medications have different risk levels, and it’s important to know what to watch for when taking any medication. It is always best to check with a health care professional including your physician, pediatrician, lactation consultant, or pharmacist.

A couple online resources I’ve used include this list from Mayo Clinic for breastfeeding safe medications or Kelly Mom, which contains lists for natural/home remedies and medications, not to mention tons of other breastfeeding and general parenting information.

2. Try natural remedies.

For nasal/sinus congestion, try steam treatment, nasal spray, or a neti-pot. If you’re fighting a sore throat, try a salt water gargle or drink hot tea/lemonade with honey. Essential oils can be a great way to help relieve nasal/sinus congestion but certain oils are not recommended to be used in close contact with infants.

3. Being sick may decrease your supply.

Unfortunately when your body is sick, it doesn’t want to focus what little energy it has left on making breast milk. So, your supply may drop for a couple days. This is terrifying if you are not a mom with a freezer full of milk and have to continue working. If you’re able to keep down fluids, try to stay hydrated as possible. Even small sips of water or Gatorade frequently throughout the day will add up! When you feel up to eating, try eating foods that will increase milk production, high protein and healthy fats. Check out this post for three great recipes that can help boost lactation.

4. Breast milk changes when baby is sick.

If baby happens to catch whatever unfortunate illness you have succumb to, your breast milk will change to better help provide for baby. There is resear

ch now showing that mammary gland receptors can sense the bacteria or virus in baby’s saliva, which will change the immunity components of your milk to help baby kick this illness quicker. Breast milk truly is so amazing! 

5. You need to rest.

I know, it’s easier said than done, but when you are sick, no matter how much water or medication you take, you will still need sleep. Now this may not always be an option, but if there is anyone who can come over for you to take a 30 minute nap or help out with bedtime, this is time to ask for that favor. If there is no one available, try to give yourself some grace. Let the laundry slide and vacuum the floors tomorrow. Take the time to sleep if and when you can. It will help you feel better so much quicker. You do not have to get it all done, you will still be super mom!

Breastfeeding While Sick: 5 Things You Need to Know

Although we try to get it all done, moms are not invincible. Our children will bring home germs and infect the whole family. It is inevitable. I hope these tips and resources will help you if you are breastfeeding while sick. As for me, I’m going to make some hot tea and honey after a steam treatment. Then pray my daughter never brings home germs again!

What tips do you have for breastfeeding while sick?

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