Breastfeeding and the Flu

It’s okay to breastfeed while you have the flu. Your body has developed antibodies to fight the virus and those are passed to your baby through breastmilk. You’re helping your baby.

You and your family share all the germs and viruses in your environment. Your baby may have already been exposed. The fact is, a person can have the virus before showing symptoms. The immune factors in your breast milk are providing necessary protection for your baby.

The Centers for Disease Control recently recommended that “Based on 2011 recommendations concerning influenza in the healthcare setting, mothers with influenza should temporarily not breastfeed their newborns; however, they can provide expressed breast milk to their newborns via a healthy caregiver.“

A few things to clarify:
1. The recommendation is “in the healthcare setting”, not your home.
2. “Provide expressed breast milk”. It is not necessary to substitute with formula.

It is wise to avoid spreading the virus (whether you’re breastfeeding or not.)
• Use your own drinking/eating utensils.
• Wash hands a lot, especially before and after pumping or breastfeeding.
• Sneeze into your arm, not your hands. Kiss the baby’s feet, not the face.
• Wear a face mask to protect from droplets if you’re coughing and sneezing

Take these precautions while you’re breastfeeding… whether or not you have a ‘healthy caregiver’ to help you out. For many mothers, it is a lot easier to simply breastfeed than pump and clean bottles.

You are good for your baby. Your baby is good for you. In addition to the antibodies passed on to the baby through breast milk, babies learn from and are comforted by smell, touch, body warmth. Holding your baby raises your prolactin level, thus boosting supply and is comforting to the mom, too.

Take precautions and rest up with your baby. Get well soon.

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