When you’re under the weather, should you avoid nursing your baby? The answer is an emphatic “nope” in most circumstances. There are actually benefits of nursing your baby when you’re ill — you might be surprised.
When you’re a mom, it is horrible to get sick. It’s difficult to take care of yourself and your kids at the same time (and you have to hope they don’t get sick as well). If you’re breastfeeding, it may not seem like a wise decision to cuddle your baby up to your germy body to nurse her, but that’s exactly what you need to do.
There are very few illnesses where you absolutely cannot nurse your baby — according to the CDC, this includes HIV and HTLV types I or II, and that’s about it. So for moms who are suffering from influenza, strep throat, a sinus infection, a barfing bug, a UTI or the common cold (among any other regular illness): Snuggle up with and breastfeed that baby.
For starters, you don’t have to worry about spreading your germs. Most people are busy spreading bacteria and viruses before they even begin to show symptoms — this means that you’ve already exposed your baby to your cold or flu. So by the time you’re in mom-cold hell, you’ve likely already shared it with your babe.
Also, according to KellyMom, breast milk has an amazing property. When you’re sick, your body naturally creates antibodies to fight off the bad bugs. These antibodies are also present in your breast milk. What does this mean? This means your baby benefits from your illness and will receive the antibodies, even if she’s not sick — and this can help her completely fight off the illness, or reduce its intensity.
Your main goal while you’re sick, aside from getting better, may be to focus on keeping your supply up. Sick moms often don’t get enough to drink which can hurt a milk supply, so make sure you’re pushing fluids on yourself like crazy. You will also need to make sure that any medications you’re prescribed are safe to take while you’re nursing, so tell your doctor right away that he needs to keep that in mind (encourage him to look at the research Dr. Hale has done on the subject).
Also, if you have a young baby (and someone to take care of your older kids if you have any), make it a point to lay around in your bed and practice plenty of skin-to-skin. Nursing on demand and having your little one close by can keep your supply up. Forget about keeping the house picked up while you’re sick. Save your energy for milk-making and baby-loving — both can speed your recovery and may help keep your baby healthy.
So, next time you’re down and out, keep your baby by your side. Not only is it awesome for your supply, but you may be keeping her from getting sick, too.