Mothers often worry about getting sick and passing the infection to their babies while breastfeeding. Apparently, before the symptoms show up they have already passed the microbes to their babies. However, there is still a good thing about breastfeeding when you are sick.
Breast milk contains antibodies that protect the baby from infections. So, if you are wondering whether you should continue to nurse your baby when you fall ill, the answer is yes. Your immune system produces antibodies to fight infections, which are passed onto your baby via the breast milk and prevents them from getting sick.
There are cases when you may require medication to treat the infection. If your illness continues for more than 3 days and there is no sign of recovery, consult your doctor and prevent it from getting worse. Before he/she prescribes you antibiotics inform them that you are lactating.
Sometimes, the antibiotics are not safe for your little one. As an alternative you can choose to pump and store your milk before taking medication. You could also feed your baby formula milk until the doctor advises you to continue breastfeeding.
When To Avoid Breastfeeding.
In the best interest of the mother and the infant, breastfeeding should be continued even when either or both of them are sick. However, in rare cases, the medical condition requires the mother to stop nursing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sets certain guidelines on breastfeeding for mothers and babies who are suffering from particular ailments.
Mothers must avoid nursing if the baby is suffering from galactosemia, which is a rare genetic disorder that affects the metabolism.1
If the mother is infected with tuberculosis, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) virus or human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or type II, there is a risk of passing the infection to the baby. If she is taking antiretroviral medications or consuming drugs, breastfeeding must be avoided. 2
If the mother is undergoing chemotherapy or any other radiation therapy, she must not nurse her infant.3
Precautions To be Taken While Breastfeeding
Your baby is protected against the disease with the same antibodies that your body produces. The diseases, however, spread through nose and mouth secretions and even from a skin-to-skin contact. Here are some simple yet necessary precautions to prevent the infection from spreading from you to your baby.
1. Food Poisoning
Mothers suffering from food poisoning have the least to worry. The bacteria causing the illness are restricted to the gut and in no way can reach the baby. The problems arises in caring for the baby when the mother needs to frequently go to the bathroom or wants to rest.
Mothers must keep drinking water to avoid getting drained of energy—it will also maintain the flow of the milk. When you nurse your baby lie down next to them.
2. Cough And Sore Throat
If you are having a sore throat, you could still breastfeed your baby. Wash your hands before holding the baby and avoid having a face-to-face contact to prevent the spreading of infection.
To get some relief, gargle two to three times a day with salt water—add half-tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of water. Drink warm liquids—lemon tea with honey can work wonders. Here are 8 natural remedies to cure sore throat.
3. Common Cold Or Flu
There is nothing more annoying than a running nose. All you can do to prevent your little one from catching your cold is to limit your skin to skin contact. Wash you hands before holding or touching your baby. When you sneeze, use a tissue or napkin to cover your face.
Wash your breasts with a mild soap before nursing your baby. If you aren’t in a condition to breastfeed, pump your breast milk or formula-feed your baby. Ask you partner to feed the baby while you are resting.
If you are nursing mom and suffering from diarrhea, remember to stay hydrated at all times. You can’t risk loosing fluids through stool while you are already breastfeeding. Drink lots of fluids—eating a simple diet that includes bananas, soup, applesauce, and rice can help.
Mastitis is a breast infection that causes sore and cracked nipples. This happens when the milk doesn’t get drained from breasts, which causes clogging in the milk ducts. Breastfeeding when suffering from mastitis can open the blocked ducts and help you heal.
Before nursing, apply warm compresses on the breast and gently massage the painful area in the direction of the nipple. Try different positions for breastfeeding—lean towards the baby to empty the blocked ducts. Find out how you can deal with clogged milk ducts.
If you are being prescribed medication by the doctor, inform them that you are nursing. Don’t take over-the-counter medication considering the safety of your little one.