Do I stop breastfeeding when I’m sick?
As a new mummy who already has enough on your plate, falling sick when you are breastfeeding your newborn can be scary. Should I stop breastfeeding when I’m sick? Why is my milk supply dropping? Will my baby fall sick too? Can I eat medicine while I’m breastfeeding?
Don’t worry mummies! It is generally safe for you to continue breastfeeding even when you are sick, and we will tell you why.
How does breast milk change when I am sick?
Your breast milk changes when you are sick. When you fall sick, your body makes antibodies to fight the illness, and the antibodies are then passed on to your baby through your breast milk.
Your milk also consists of immunity-boosting cells, which increase in number whenever your baby is sick and helps to fight diseases.
How is this beneficial to babies?
By the time you realize that you are sick, your baby has already been exposed to the illness. Remember that you and your baby share the same immune system. Continuing to breastfeed will give your baby the antibodies he or she needs to protect them.
On the reverse side, when your baby falls sick before you, they will pass those germs to you through nursing, and within the breast itself you begin making antibodies and pass them back to the baby.
Stop nursing or continue?
In general, if you are feeling okay, there is no reason for you to stop nursing! In fact, nursing provides fluids and nutrition when your baby finds it hard to digest other food and drinks. To stop breastfeeding would stop them from receiving protection from the antibodies that you have begun passing through your breast milk.
What are the illnesses that require me to stop nursing?
There are a few conditions where breastfeeding is not encouraged.
For more information on breastfeeding when you have specific diseases or illnesses, do visit websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov) or the World Health Organization (who.int/eng).
Do remember to seek medical advice about your condition and whether it is best to continue or stop breastfeeding.
The bottom line is there are very few illnesses that would require you to stop breastfeeding. Nursing would provide your baby with essential nutrients that they need to recover, as well as serving as an excellent pain relief.
Don’t worry too much if you see your milk supply dropping slightly when you are sick, especially if you are vomiting or have diarrhea. Drink enough liquids to stay hydrated and your milk supply will increase as you recover!
If you have to take medications, most medications do not interfere with breastfeeding.
Get as much rest as possible and have a diet rich in vitamin D, antioxidants, zinc, and omega-3 fats. These nutrients can help to keep your immune system in good shape! It is important for you to stay healthy so that you can recover quickly and tend to your baby.