Motherhood, New Motherhood

How to Handle Sickness While Breastfeeding

When you are breastfeeding and sickness comes upon you, it may feel like the end of the world. It can be tough to power through this but there are ways to make it easier! There are also crucial things you need to know to safely breastfeed during an illness.

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Keep Breastfeeding If You Are Sick

If you are sick, with a cold, the flu, a stomach bug, continue to breastfeed! Your milk produces antibodies to help your baby not get sick and shorten their term of illness. It is so important to keep breastfeeding them. Times, when you should not breastfeed during illness, is when your medication will affect the baby negatively. You can check your medication’s safety status through your Lactation Consultant or the free LactMed app.

Make Sure Your Medications Are Breastfeeding Safe

There are many medications that are not safe to take while breastfeeding because it will adversely affect your baby. If you are prescribed a medication that is not breastfeeding friendly, you can see if there are alternatives that you can take. If there is no alternative, pump, and dump, and give your baby stored breastmilk through the duration of the medication. You can check the safety of your medication with your Lactation Consultant or LactMed.

Make Sure Your Medication Won’t Affect Your Supply

When we are dealing with colds, coughs, and flu, we like to head straight for the decongestants for relief! Unfortunately, any medication that’s purpose is to dry up (or thin out) has a high chance if adversely affecting your supply, which can dry up your supply. Even one dose can do this. Alternatives for nasal relief are Neti Pots and Nasal Sprays and staying hydrated. For coughs, cough drops and warm beverages can help. You can consult your Lactation Consultant for more relief recommendations. Your Lactation Consultant and LactMed can let you know if a medication will adversely affect your supply. Note – Peppermint Essential Oils can dry up your supply.

You also might like: Breastfeeding Your Newborn, The First Weeks

Stay Hydrated to Help With Your Supply

Through any illness, it is crucial to stay hydrated. Your breastmilk is more than 80% water, according to WHO (World Health Organization). Drink water and tea, and try to avoid caffeine. I have found that Blue Gatorade helped keep my supply up when I was super sick. If you are vomiting and cannot keep anything down, call your doctor and get an anti-nausea medication. I have had multiple stomachs bugs where I was able to take an anti-nausea medication. I was able to stay hydrated and continue to breastfeed my daughter.

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Eat What You Can

I know during episodes with stomach bugs, food can be hard to consume. Eat what you can, whether that be crackers, soup, popsicles, etc. The calories go along way in keeping your supply up and giving you a little energy. If you are not having trouble keeping food down, now is the time to pack in the nutrient-rich foods. They will supply you and your baby with all of the good stuff and help support your weakened immune system.

You Need to Rest

This may seem impossible when you have little and you are sick. But there are definitely solutions. You can have your spouse take over and bring your child to you when its time to eat. Sleep during that spare time! Call family and see if they will come over or if they can take your little for a bit. I am adamant about breastfeeding while I’m sick, so my daughter rarely leaves the house when I’m down or she stays close enough that she can be brought back to nurse. Sleep when they (your kids) sleep. But having time to bc rest helps you to heal and to keep up your supply.

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Ways to Keep Your Supply Up While You Are Sick

I learned fast that when I was sick, my husband had to pick up blue Gatorade, saltines, and Mother’s Milk Tea for me. I made sure to be drinking plenty of water (my weight divided into half = amounts of water I should drink in ounces). I do tons of skin to skin and I let my little nurse whenever she wants. I also get plenty of rest, which helps a ton.

Earth Mama Organics - Breastfeeding


Moms get sick. It is even tougher when you are breastfeeding. Be conscious about what you are putting into your body and make sure to take extra measures to keep your supply up. Being sick while breastfeeding can be uncomfortable but by playing it safe, you will be able to prolong your breastfeeding journey. Doctors are not always accurately informed on medication and breastfeeding, so be sure to consult a Lactation Consultant if you have any questions.

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