Breastfeeding is going along just peachy and then -
Mom get’s hit with a nasty bug.
Is it safe to nurse a wee babe? What if mom loses her supply?
This past week has been the first time in my nursing career (32 months so far) where I have had a significant illness. Well, there was the incident just days after Scrunch was born when the whole house was hit with a stomach virus. I ended up back in the ER a day after being released from the maternity ward.
First of all, it is perfectly safe to breastfeed while you are sick. In almost ALL cases, baby has been exposed to the illness before you showed symptoms. By breastfeeding through the illness, you ensure that baby gets the immunity from you. If baby does indeed get sick, it is most often much less severe in mom is breastfeeding than it would be if she didn’t. If you are concerned about medications passing through your milk, take heart that most medications are safe to take while nursing. It’s always good to double check though. You can search on Kellymom or on Lactmed Toxnet or even with the Infant Risk Center (they have a phone number you can call even while you are in the doctor’s office for those without smart phones). Be very careful with decongestants – they have been known to dry up milk.
Now, it is very common for milk supply to dip – sometimes dramatically – during an illness. Keep nursing! Breastfeeding is the fastest way to get supply back. As you feel better, drink more fluids. Get back to eating food and then back to a normal diet. Be prepared for the supply return to take several days. Keep an eye on baby’s wet diaper count as that’s the biggest indicator if baby is getting enough.
Things to think about:
- Baby may nurse VERY frequently. That doesn’t mean your milk has dried up. Most likely, you just have dipped a bit. Keep nursing – it will come back.
- You may feel too weak or tired to nurse. Consider allowing someone to help baby nurse. If you feel it would drain you physically too much, missing a feeding here and there is not the end of the world. Try not to miss multiple feedings in a row if you can help it.
- It may take you longer to recover from an illness when you are nursing. Your body is taking care of two people at once.
- If you feel very drained and weak, you may need to see a doctor or receive IV fluids (especially for tummy bugs).
Just keep nursing frequently and let baby take the lead. Increase rest, hydration, and calories. Within a few days, supply will be back to normal!
Have you nursed through an illness?