Breastfeeding When Sick

It's hard to nurse your baby when you're trying to nurse yourself back to good health, but it's often wise to keep on breastfeeding. Here, what breastfeeding moms need to know if you or your baby is ill.
Breastfeeding When Sick
Breastfeeding When Sick

Pump Up Immunity "When a breastfeeding mom is ill, she passes antibodies to her infant that help protect him from developing the illness," says Kelly A. Hightower, R.N., certified lactation counselor and owner of Bright Birth in Decatur, GA. "Breastfeeding helps shield your baby not only from your germs, but from other people's, too. And if your baby does become sick, he'll likely recover faster than if he weren't breastfed."

When To Say No There are some exceptions to the breast-is-best rule. According to Centers for Disease Control, nursing is not advised if mom has HIV, tuberculosis, or the human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or II; is on chemotherapy; or is undergoing radiation treatment for cancer. And if your infant is sick with galactosemia, a rare genetic metabolic disorder, nursing is out.

Feeding Changes Just like adults, infants often change their eating habits when they're not feeling well. "Even if your baby has established a feeding schedule, it's important to simply breastfeed on demand when your baby is ill. This will help prevent dehydration," Hightower says. Other babies will go on a nursing strike when they feel crummy. Turn to your pediatrician and lactation counselor for advice to ensure that your baby continues to get the nutrition he needs.

Stay Hydrated Drink plenty of water when you're not feeling the best. It'll help keep your milk supply going.

Rethink Positions If you're the one who's ill, lie down on your side and rest while your baby eats. If your baby has a stuffy nose, position her so that she's upright while nursing to help her breath while sucking.

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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