Can You Breastfeed With A Fever Or A Cold?
What if a nursing mother gets sick? Can you breastfeed with a fever or a cold? When is breastfeeding contraindicated?
These are very common questions nursing mothers ask and we hope to answer for you.
In most cases, the answer is yes, you can breastfeed with a fever or a cold. In fact, it’s best that you do. When you are sick with a fever or a cold, your baby has most likely been exposed to the virus or bacteria.
Breastfeeding will increase your baby's protection because breastmilk has the antibodies that will prevent the baby from getting sick.
Despite the popular belief, transmitting common illnesses like colds and flu through breastfeeding is not true.
Benefits Of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is probably the best thing mothers can give and do for their babies. Breastmilk contains all the necessary nutrients and protection for a baby, especially during the first few months. There’s no need to introduce other food until your baby is showing readiness for solids.
A nursing mother gets to bond with her baby. It also helps a mother recover from post-delivery faster. It’s economical because it is free and it is convenient because it’s ready to serve.
Breast milk is nature’s gift for babies because even if a mother doesn’t have proper nutrition, she can still give the baby proper nutrition.
When Should A Mother Not Breastfeed?
Its very rare for a mother to stop breastfeeding. Most illnesses can still allow a mom to breastfeed, but more serious ones might need a mom to stop. The only true contraindications of breastfeeding are:
- The infant has galactosemia, a genetic metabolism disorder
- The mother has HIV
In addition, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breastfeeding is not advisable if one or more of the following cases are true:
- A mother undergoing radiation therapy. However, it only requires a temporary interruption in breastfeeding
- A mother who is undergoing chemotherapy
- A mother who is using or dependent on illicit drugs
- A mother who is taking antiretroviral medications
- A mother who is infected with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or type II
There may be some cases that require further investigation. If you are sick and require medication, inform your doctor that you are nursing. There are medications that are compatible with breastfeeding. Otherwise, you might need to temporarily stop breastfeeding. Your doctor should inform you if it is okay or not.
What If My Baby Does Get Sick?
One of the best things you can do is continue to breastfeed. Ill babies need to keep up with their fluid intake especially if he or she is vomiting or having diarrhea. There’s no need to replace breastmilk with formula, water or juice.
However, if the baby is too sick to breastfeed, you can express milk and feed it with a syringe, dropper, or bottle. Consult your doctor for more advice.
What If The Baby Won’t Nurse?
One of the most stressful things for a mother is if the baby won't nurse. It's upsetting when the baby rejects your breasts and you can't do much about it.
A breastfeeding strike is when the baby refuses to breastfeed for a period of time after healthy period of breastfeeding. A baby may refuse to breastfeed for different reasons.
If he or she suddenly stops, then it should tell you that something is wrong.
According to Mayo Clinic, the following are common causes of a breastfeeding strike:
- Mouth sores or pain can cause the baby to stop breastfeeding.
- Ear infections can cause pain during sucking.
- Colds or stuffy nose makes breathing difficult during breastfeeding. In this case, you can try to clear his airway. You can also express your breastmilk and feed with a bottle, syringe or a dropper.
- Sudden changes can also trigger breastfeeding strike. For instance, a change in your smell can cause the baby to lose interest. Your diet might also affect the taste of the breast milk.
It’s important to observe your baby for any unusualities or changes in behavior. To manage a breastfeeding strike, be patient and try these measures:
- Address any underlying conditions such as teething, mouth pain, ear infections, stuffy nose, etc.
- You can also eliminate any new food that seemed to have changed the milk’s taste.
- Cuddle often with your baby. Skin-to-skin contact between the mother and baby might help.
- Try changing your feeding position.
- Consult your doctor if the problem persists.
It’s very rare when a mother has to stop breastfeeding. For common illnesses like the flu or colds, it’s actually recommended to continue breastfeeding. The milk a mother can supply has the nutrients the infant needs and adds extra protection for the baby.
If you have any other concerns regarding your breastfeeding, your baby’s health and your health, consult your doctor.