Many mothers may wonder whether continuing to breastfeed when they are ill is a good idea. Some stop feeding if they feel a common cold or flu symptoms surfacing. However, medical experts recommend continuing to breastfeed if the severity of the illness is not great. Continuing to breastfeed while sick may actually be beneficial to the baby as you will also be providing the antibodies that your body is producing to fight the disease.
This advise may surprise some people, but know that by the time that you start feeling the symptoms of the cold or flu, you would already been infected and contagious for a day or two. In that time a mother would have already passed the pathogens responsible for the illness on to the baby.
If you are breastfeeding, to be on the safe side, always get your flu symptoms checked out by a doctor who will suggest a proper treatment and tell you whether it is a good idea to stop breastfeeding. If the doctor prescribes medication, it is important that he or she knows that you are breastfeeding, and you should remind her if she doesn’t ask, in order to make sure the medication you are given does not affect your baby’s health.
The doctor may recommend stopping breastfeeding if your condition is very severe, or it is a more serious illness, or if the medications can adversely affect your child, such as with antibiotics. If you are required to stop breastfeeding, remember that long periods of not feeding is likely to slow down your milk production. In order for this not to affect your routine, you can pump out breast milk even if you aren’t planning to use it. It is perfectly acceptable to discuss your concerns with the doctor and ask how to keep your break from feeding your baby as short as possible.
Remember, if you are feeling sick, even though it is likely that you have passed on the infection to your baby, just in case you have not, practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often, avoid coughing or sneezing without covering your mouth and nose, and minimise facial contact with the baby, no matter how much you want to kiss those chubby cheeks.
And if your symptoms get worse, consult your doctor again as to whether you should or shouldn’t be breastfeeding and to check if your symptoms are indicative of another ailment.
Finally, whether you are breastfeeding or not, take it easy and give yourself adequate time to recover. Eating well and getting enough rest is the best way to keep yourself, and your baby, in good health.
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