Breastfeeding When You Are Sick

The Common Cold and Other Minor Illnesses in The Nursing Mother

You can still breastfeed if you catch a cold. Tetra Images/Getty Images

Can You Breastfeed If You Get Sick?

Moms get sick, too. Common minor illnesses can develop at any time, even when you have a child that is still nursing. For most minor issues, you can continue to breastfeed. Due to the close contact between you and your baby, he or she will have most likely already been exposed to the illness by the time you realize that you're sick. Plus, your breast milk contains antibodies to the illness and can actually protect your baby from catching what you have.

Some Of The Common Illness That You Can Continue To Breastfeed Through Include:

Tips For Breastfeeding When You're Sick:

Keep your hands clean: Wash your hands before breastfeeding or touching your baby to minimize the spread of germs to your baby and your breasts.

Try not to cough or sneeze directly onto the baby: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or turn your head away from the baby when possible. Do not cough or sneeze into your hands, though.  Germs on your hands can spread easily to whatever or whoever you touch.  

Get enough rest: Your body uses energy to breastfeed, and when you're sick, you need even more energy to fight off the illness. Ask for help with the baby, the housework, cooking, etc., so that you can spend more time resting and getting well. 

Drink plenty of fluids: You will need additional fluids to prevent dehydration and a decrease in your milk supply, especially if you have a fever.

Keep an eye on your milk supply: You may notice a decline in your milk supply during an illness. This is usually temporary and it should bounce back once you are feeling well again.

Be careful with OTC medication: Check with your doctor before you take any over-the-counter (OTC) medications. There are some OTC medications that are safe to take while you're breastfeeding.

However, some medications can pass to the baby through the breast milk, and others can decrease your milk supply.

Tell the doctor that you're breastfeeding: If you talk to your doctor over the phone, or go to see your doctor in the office, be sure to let her know that you are breastfeeding before she gives you a prescription.

Keep breastfeeding even if your baby gets sick: If your child does catch what you have, you can still continue to breastfeed. Breastfeeding your child when he's sick can help him to recover more quickly. It provides your baby with nutrition, keeps him hydrated, and it's a great source of comfort

Call your doctor: If you are worried, or not sure what you should do, call your doctor for advice and guidance.


American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

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