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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Women's Health BREASTFEEDING WHILE SICK?


If you are breastfeeding while you or your baby are sick, doubt may arise if it’s safe for your baby. The good news is that breastmilk is protective against infections. It contains natural antibacterial and antiviral substances that are passed onto the new born. Therefore the breastfed babies fall sick less often and recover faster than Bottle-fed babies.


Q. Should I breastfeed my sick baby?

Yes. Breastfeeding a sick baby helps her recover faster and also comforts her. Breast milk contains substances like antibodies, white blood cells, nutrition and vitamins that support her and help her recover faster. Also breastmilk contains more of immunity boosting cells when you are exposed to baby’s sickness. The amount of milk may also increase to keep up with demand of the baby during sickness. Although duration of breastfeed may shorten during cold and blocked nose. These help the baby recover faster.  In case your baby is too unwell to breastfeed, you may try newer positions of baby to comfort her during feeding under guidance of a pediatrician. You may also want to give her expressed breastmilk.

Q. Can I still breastfeed when sick?

If you have a common illness like cold, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, breast pain, etc keep breastfeeding as normal. Your baby will not catch the illness through breastmilk. In fact the immunity boosting cells will increase in your breastmilk during illness, and it will protect your baby.

Keep yourself well-hydrated during this high demand phase of breastfeeding during sickness. Take enough rest and eat whenever required. Taking some precautions like washing hands often, eating well cooked food, drinking cleaner water, sneezing in crook of elbows, using hand sanitizer will help minimize spreading of infection.

Q. Is it OK to take medicines while breastfeeding?

Some medicines are considered safe during breastfeeding, while other medicines are avoided. The medicines that are considered safe are paracetamol, ibuprofen, some anti-allergics like cetirizine and some antibiotics like amoxicillin. Ask A Doctor if other medicines are safe to take during breastfeeding. While buying medicines always let your pharmacist know that you are breastfeeding.  Some long-term medicines are also allowed wen their benefits outweigh the risks for example anti-asthmatic or anti-epileptic medicines. Even if you need to undergo some surgery, breastfeeding is continued. Anaesthetics are also considered to not have any disastrous effect on baby.

You can breastfeed during sickness. However there may be some risks involved in special situations. Ask A Pediatrician if you need to take any special measures or discontinue breastfeeding.



Written by - Dr Vaishalee Punj