Should You Breast Feed When You Are Sick?

BreastFeeding.SickThere are many benefits to breast feeding, but is it harmful to your child’s health when you are sick with a cold or virus?

Even when you are sick, your baby will almost always benefit from breastfeeding. In most instances, viruses are most likely transmitted before symptoms even occur. Breast feeding can actually help protect your baby from the virus since your breast milk produces the necessary antibodies to stave off the illness. In fact, even if your baby gets sick, it is usually a much milder case than anyone else in the house.

It is not a good idea for you to stop breast feeding abruptly because your breasts can become engorged, which can lead to painful inflammation, known as mastitis. Instead, while you are sick, ask a family member to bring the baby to you to nurse and take him way when you’re done so you can rest. Also, drink plenty of fluids when you are sick so you don’t become dehydrated and your milk supply does not decrease.

Some moms may also be concerned about taking medications while breastfeeding, but with few exceptions, over the counter medications are just fine. Some suggestions include:
• Avoid using extra or maximum strength pain medication or fever reducers.

• Medications that contain ibuprofen are recommended over those that contain acetaminophen.

• Try to use single ingredient, short acting forms of cold, cough, and allergy medications.

• Avoid taking aspirin as there is a small risk of infants developing Reye’s syndrome.

It is important however to carefully read medication labels and check with your physician before taking any drug while you are nursing. If you do not have a doctor, contact Jamaica Hospital’s Women’s Health Center at 718-291-3276 to make an appointment.

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All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.