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Breastfeeding and Illness: Tips for Nursing when You’re Sick

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Tips for Nursing

When you’re sick, it can be harder to stay well than usual. So latch on to those antibodies and fight that virus! If only we could bottle the goodness of your milk when you’re feeling under the weather, we could drink it too. Your milk would help keep us healthy and ensure we don’t develop nasty allergies later in life.

Research does back up some of these assumptions, though. Not only does your milk have a protective effect when you’re unwell, but being ill also makes your baby feel worse from illness. If a virus attacks your little one’s cells, breast milk provides them with extra nutrients and antibodies to help them fight the illness more effectively. And if that wasn’t enough, there are other advantages to nursing when you’re sick too.

Here are a few tips for nursing when you’re sick so that both of you stay healthy and happy:

Make sure you’re breastfeeding appropriately.

Whether you’re sick or not, choosing the right time to start breastfeeding is important. It’s not recommended to breastfeed in the first few days of illness or right after you’ve just given birth, as your body needs time to heal and make sure breastfeeding is as easy and comfortable as possible. If you’re breastfeeding when you’re sick, you’ll need to consider your needs too. There’ll be extra pain and discomfort to deal with, and you’ll need to take extra care of yourself so you can take care of your baby too. If you know you’ll be unwell at some point, it might be a good idea to put the baby on the bottle as soon as you feel a sniffle coming on – you don’t want to risk getting sick yourself as well.

Keep up with your supply.

If you’ve been sick for a while, you need to ensure your breasts aren’t going dry. Dehydration can make you even more unwell and make your symptoms worse. Also, if you feel unwell and your supply isn’t meeting your demand, you might have cracked nipples and suffer from pain and nipple injury scars. In order to keep up with your demand and prevent this, you can make sure you’re drinking lots of water, change your breasts often, or pump and store your milk for when you’re better. You can also try expressing colostrum (the yellowish liquid your breasts make right after you give birth) and drinking it. Colostrum has been proven beneficial for both mother and baby and contains antibodies that can help your baby fight off infections and illness.

Don’t skip meals

Just like when you’re not sick or unwell, your body needs regular nourishment. If you skip meals when you’re sick, you’ll feel even more unwell and eventually end up in the hospital as your body goes into “starvation mode.” Instead, ensure you eat as normally during your illness as you would during a typical day. If you’re breastfeeding when you’re unwell, you can try to make up for the amount of nourishment you’re not receiving by making up for how you’re feeding your baby. If you need to be more forceful or your baby’s congested, you can try feeding your baby by covering his mouth with a breast shield, opening your areola, and letting your baby suck on the nipple.

Snuggle up together

If you’re feeling ill, you’ll want to keep your baby close. Breastfeeding is a great way to do this. Breastfeeding can increase the amount of time your baby spends snuggling up to you, which can help to boost his natural immunity. Breastfeeding also has a calming effect and can help your baby to feel less anxious. If you’re breastfeeding when you’re ill, you can help your baby stay healthy by ensuring you feed regularly. Try holding your baby partly upright or burping him when he cries. This can help him release extra gas and remove any extra water in his gut.

Stay positive and make time for rest.

You might feel anxious and under the weather, but remember to stay positive. You might be feeling worse than usual and unable to have a relaxing bath as you normally would, but don’t forget to make time for it. They’re not just for when you’re sick! If you’re breastfeeding when you’re unwell, you can try to make up for the nutrients you’re not getting by adding extra drops of breast milk to your water bottle.


Your milk might have extra perks when you’re unwell, and nursing can help your baby get those benefits too. No matter how sick you or your baby are, breastfeeding is always best for both of you! If you’re sick, ensure you stay hydrated, drink plenty of fluids, and nurse your baby regularly so you both can stay well. Nursing when you’re sick might be a good idea if you’re trying to get the most out of your supply and fight off any illness. Also, your milk might be extra nourishing and helpful when feeling under the weather.

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