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Breastfeeding When You Are Sick

Breastfeeding When You Are Sick

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We know that breastfeeding has nutritional, health and emotional benefits for both mother and child. But questions arise: What if you fall sick?

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Can you still breastfeed your child?

Let’s see whether it is possible to breastfeed when you are not well…

Yes, in most cases you can breastfeed your baby when you are sick.

If you think you are too tired or ill to breastfeed the baby, express your milk and tell a family member to feed the expressed milk with a cup and spoon.

  • If you have common illnesses such as cold, flu or diarrhoea, you can breastfeed your baby. These illnesses are not passed on to your baby during breastfeeding.
  • Breast milk has antibodies in it that fight against infections. Also, when you are sick, your body produces antibodies to combat the illness. These antibodies 
    pass on to your baby through the breast milk.
  • Try following hygienic precautions when you are sick such as covering your face while coughing or sneezing, washing your hands, and limiting close face-to-face contact
    with your baby. Babies can have health problems if they catch flu. So during breastfeeding wear a facemask to avoid sneezing or coughing directly into your
    baby’s face.

Breastfeeding the baby is not advised, if the mother:

  • Has tuberculosis that is not treated
  • Is taking antiretroviral medications or cancer chemotherapy agents
  • Has been infected with HIV.

In such conditions, a Human Milk Bank can be contacted to provide breast milk to feed the child. A few hospitals in India have initiated human milk banking. Check with your doctor to find out about options available to you. Your doctor can also suggest you alternative methods of feeding your baby.

Interrupting breastfeeding is not necessary in most illnesses. If your baby develops any flu-like symptoms, visit your doctor. Breastfeeding protects the baby even when you are sick.

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