No matter what time of year you give birth, germs are a concern. Older kids bring home new bugs from school, parents bring home new bugs from work, and oftentimes their are germs in your environment you can’t adequately prepare for. How do you cope when your new baby finally catches its first bug? What do you do if you are sick while breastfeeding?
When baby is sick: keep breastfeeding
Hydration for the baby is important and a breastfed baby will rehydrate best at mom’s breast. Your baby associates Mom’s breast with comfort and will go there when you can’t get them to take anything else. So in addition to the immune boosting properties of breast milk; you’ll want to continue breastfeeding to provide your baby emotional and physical comfort.
Keep in mind that a stuffy nose may make it uncomfortable for your baby to breastfeed. The syringe they gave you at the hospital may help you clear his nostrils just before feeding. Saline drops can also help. In general, babies may nurse more frequently, but shorter duration each time when they are sick.
When you are sick: keep breastfeeding
If breastfeeding a sick baby is hard, your will to breastfeed may further decrease when you are sick. It’s best to keep breastfeeding your baby, though. Your body is making antibodies to fight whatever you have and your baby benefits immediately from those same antibodies passed through the milk. In fact, the baby is probably getting those antibodies even before you realize you are sick. Even if the baby gets sick, it will be a milder case because of your breastfeeding.
When you are sick: get help!
This is what being sick with kids can feel like:
The truth is, when you are the one who is sick, you need help. This is as much a time to ask for help from your support system as it was when you first came home from the hospital. All the things you are supposed to do when you are sick (rest, keep hydrated, etc.) you need to do even moreso. Tap into your support network to make sure both you and your family get the necessary attention.
Additionally, if you feel your cold taking a stronger hold, don’t wait too long to go call the doctor. Many parents will have their child’s pediatrician on speed dial, but can’t say the same about their personal physicians. Everyone is bummed when Mom gets sick. You owe it to yourself and your family to seek the help you need.
What about the flu?
The 2011-2012 recommendation from the Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is this, “…pregnant women who receive the influenza vaccine at least 14 days prior to giving birth, greatly decrease the risk (by 45-48%) of their child developing influenza in the first 5 months of life when infants are too young to receive the vaccine.”
With any vaccinations or medications, be sure to consult your physician for proper use and dosage.