Q&A: Should I breastfeed when I'm sick?
I'm a new mom who's nursing, and I'm afraid I either have the flu or a stomach bug—I've been throwing up for hours! Is it safe for me to breastfeed when I'm sick like this? Will I infect my baby?
It is absolutely safe for you to feed your baby. By the time you show outward symptoms of a bug, you have already been infected with it and have probably already exposed the baby to it, too.
The best thing, if you are feeling up to it, is to keep nursing. Here’s why: As your body makes immunities to help you ward off this nasty bug, you will pass them through your milk to the baby. By passing them on to her, she will either avoid the bug completely or get it in a much less intense way. The real problem arises for moms when they are feeling lousy or become dehydrated by keeping up with their little ones’ demands. (Read Being Sick with Baby to learn more.)
If you are sick, ask for help! Stay in bed and rest as much as possible. Stay well hydrated by chewing on ice chips or sipping ginger ale or warm tea. Learn which medications are safe to take.
If you feel your milk supply has dipped—which can happen if you get dehydrated—keep pushing fluids and consult with a lactation consultant for ideas on how to increase your supply. If your baby does get sick, make sure you check in with her pediatrician if she begins vomiting, has diarrhea, develops a fever, or becomes lethargic or overly fussy.