Is Breastfeeding With A Cold Safe? A Comprehensive Guide For Mothers


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breastfeeding with a cold

Is breastfeeding with a cold safe?

Breastfeeding with a cold is a worrisome thing for all the mothers. However, for most of the cases, breastfeeding is completely safe. Most viruses responsible for flu have no transmission through breast milk. Instead, it is beneficial to breastfeed with a common cold. It gives you a peaceful time to relax and nurse your baby. However, if you are too sick to carry your baby and breastfeed you can use a breast pump and get some caregiver to feed your baby until you recover.

Symptoms of a cold

What comes to one’s mind after hearing a cold is a bit of fever with flu or cough? But there is a lot more to it. You can have headaches, sinusitis, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. In rare cases, one can have mastitis associated with the cold.

You can continue breastfeeding without any fear as none of this can transfer to your baby through breast milk. However, you should be careful about respiratory droplets and hygiene.

Why keep breastfeeding with a cold?

Stopping breastfeeding during a cold is not a smart idea. Instead, scientists are claiming that breast milk is essential for the baby even if you have a cold. Here is why?

Breast milk contains almost all the necessary ingredients your baby needs at this time of his age. Above all, it contains additional antibodies that protect your baby against infections. Since your baby’s immune system is not mature this will cover for it. Plus cold infection rarely transmits through breast milk. Furthermore, there are countless benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby. So stopping breast milk with a cold does more harm than good.

Cold medicines and breastfeeding

Cold medicines are generally considered safe both in pregnancy and while breastfeeding. However, not every cold medicine drug is safe. Thanks to the FDA we now have a list of drugs that are quite safe during breastfeeding. This list excludes all the herbal medications as they don’t come under the FDA regulation making them a risky choice.

Decongestants and expectorants are also available for congestion and cold. However, these medications are notorious for decreasing breast milk. This lasts as long as you take medicine and relieves automatically when you stop taking them. However, shifting to diet for breastfeeding mothers to increase milk production can overcome this problem.

Similarly, antibiotics are risky too. They have a higher risk and worse side effects and should be used with caution. There are a lot of these medicines which are excreted in the breast milk and cause side effects in the baby.

Risks of cold medicines during breastfeeding

Interestingly, the side effects and risks of cold medications are found to be almost the same for both the mother and the baby. Luckily these are pretty minor and include; drowsiness, jitters, and fever. However, antibiotics have greater risk and adverse side effects. These can be from nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea to severe reactions in both the mother and the baby.

What to do then?

Consulting a child pediatrician before taking any medicine even a simple cold medication is the smartest thing to do. Your doctor can calculate the necessity of the medication and its safety.

It is always better to avoid any medicine unless you have no other option. A mild cold and flu are mostly viral and there is no need for any medication as it will go on its own. Simple diphenhydramine and ibuprofen are enough in worse case scenarios. However, if symptoms are even worse you may need an antibiotic. And there is no better than your doctor to prescribe one.

What to do if you can’t breastfeed your baby?

A few of the mothers have complained about the reduction in their breast milk after having a cold. Nothing to worry, it can happen. However, as soon as the cold goes the production becomes normal. You can avoid it with healthy eating and proper hydration.

If for any reason you cannot breastfeed your baby or you are hospitalized you can use a breast pump.

Also Read: When Do Boobs Stop Growing?

How to avoid spreading cold to your baby?

Instead of stopping breastfeeding and increasing the danger for your baby, you should try these simple acts to avoid the spread of cold:

  • Always wash your hands first before picking up your baby.
  • Avoid splashing your sneeze or cough droplets on your baby.
  • Use a face mask.
  • Avoid face to face contact as much as possible.
  • Use home-made remedies like hot beverages.
  • Seek help from baby care services if you are too ill to take care of your baby.
  • Avoid any medication unless it is necessary.
  • Keep yourself and your baby warm.
  • Eat healthy food and keep yourself hydrated.
  • Keep the vaccination schedule of your baby up-to-date.
  • After 6 months of age, you can also have flu shots for your baby.

Breastfeeding with a cold is tiring

Taking care of a newborn baby is a full-time job. You have to give all of your focus to your baby which leaves very little time for yourself. On top of it if you are ill it becomes a complete mess. Breastfeeding with a cold wears you out.

You should keep good care of your health in this scenario. Eat healthy food and keep yourself hydrated. Give yourself proper time to rest and if you have to ask for help, you can hire a babysitter as well.


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