Is Breastfeeding Ok When You Are Sick?


Is breastfeeding OK when you are sick? The answer may be surprising to most. As laid in bed for 3 days with a bad case of the flu, the last thing I wanted to do was to nurse my little one. I thought that breastfeeding while I was sick might actually get her sick. I didn’t really know, but I didn’t want to take any chances. She insisted on nursing as usual and did not understand that mommy was sick. I decided it was best to avoid nursing as much as possible just to be safe.

By the third day I ended up going to Urgent Care to see what was really going on. The doctor confirmed that I did in fact I have the flu. The diagnosis was a bit frustrating considering I had gotten the flu vaccine a few months ago. I thought that here was no way I could get the flu. It turns out that there are different flu stains and the vaccine only protects you against one! Now I know…

I explained to the doctor that I had not been breastfeeding because of the fear of getting my daughter sick. She told me that the best thing I could do for my little one during that time was to nurse her as much as possible. Breastfeeding would actually protect her from getting the flu. It turns out that the antibodies that my body was producing would be given to her through the breast milk.

The doctor suggested I take some precautions while continuing to nurse. She recommended wearing a mask to avoid passing the flu. Any time you are sick you should wash your hands often. This is especially important before breastfeeding your baby. Lastly staying hydrated is especially important with the flu. Dehydration is a major problem in many cases of the flu. If you are still nursing then it is even more important to drink a lot of fluids.

Basically what I learned is that I would go through all of the suffering of the flu so that my little one wouldn’t have to. I took the doctor’s advice and began nursing my daughter as much as I could. The last thing I wanted was for her to get sick as I was getting better. The amazing thing is that it worked! A week later and still no sign of the the flu.

I should not forget to mention that my little one is actually a toddler. She is 2 1/2 to be exact! I have been trying to wean her from nursing for months now. It has been an on going challenge as she is really unwilling to give up the boob. A year ago I would have never thought I would still be nursing, but her I am! I use to think that nursing a toddler was kind of weird. I never wanted to be one of those moms that is still nursing at this stage. Now that I am in this situation I have a new understanding of why breastfeeding even now is so important for my child’s health.

As I recover, I will continue to try to wean my toddler and hopefully I will have some success in the next couple of months. In the mean time I am so thankful that I was still breastfeeding. There is no better feeling than knowing that I helped protect my daughter from getting the flu.

Do you had any experiences of being sick and breastfeeding? I would love to hear about them. What about your thoughts on breastfeeding a toddler? Leave me your comments or questions. I would love to start a discussion!


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5 thoughts on “Is Breastfeeding Ok When You Are Sick?”

  1. This is something mom’s wonder about. But I’ve heard the same thing as you, that your passing antibodies that prevent illness.

  2. I breastfed my little one for 23 months. I had flu too in this period but I continued to breastfeed her. I didn’t even medicate myself with antibiotics or other harsh drugs.

  3. One of the amazing things about breastmilk is that as you are fighting off the flu, those antibodies are being passed on to your little one! One of the reasons I really wish I would have been able to breastfeed! Glad you are feeling better!

  4. i also breastfed until the toddler years. It was quite hard because people are generally judgmental to moms who breastfed toddlers. Lot of unsolicited advice and veiled insults. I also breastfed when i was sick before but not because i knew better. I just breastfed because i felt like crap and there was no way to feed the baby except to hand in the boob to the baby. I’m glad that it was actually a good thing

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