The answer is almost always going to be “Yes, continue to breastfeed and offer breastmilk while you and/or baby are sick.” Human milk is amazing! It is constantly changing to meet baby’s needs, which can be especially helpful during cold and flu season. Your milk produces antibiodies as you and baby are exposed to new germs. Any time you are actively sick you should take safety precautions AND continue giving your baby all the amazing nutrients and antibodies your breastmilk is creating to help protect baby now and throughout their lifetime.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
- Breastmilk provides protection against many illnesses
- For infectious illnesses, such as the flu, the CDC recommends moms continue to breastfeed and provide breastmilk while practicing safety precautions
- If you are actively sick or have been exposed, practice the following safety precautions: hand washing (especially before holding or feeding baby or pumping), wearing a mask if you have any respiratory symptoms (sneezing or coughing), and sanitizing pump parts between each use
- Infectious illnesses immediately after birth, before breastfeeding has been initiated, are handled on a case by case basis between healthcare providers and parents
While most medications are safe during breastfeeding, here is a great resource for checking over the counter and prescription medications: https://www.infantrisk.com/
About the author: Julie Oberholzer is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) with Nurture Columbus, in Columbus, Ohio. With her background in Public Health and Lactation, she enjoys meeting with parents and new babies, helping them on their feeding journey and supporting them as they find their new normal.