Can Breastfeeding Help Your Baby from The Flu?

Can Breastfeeding Help Protect Your Baby from the Flu?

mother with newborn on couch breastfeeding

Well, summer has come to a close and fall has made its presence known, with winter right around the corner.  With that said, moms and their babies are apt to find themselves faced with sneezes, coughs, sniffles and even the flu.  The truth is that breastfed babies have a good deal of protection from all types of illnesses including colds and flu, and if and when they should become sick the quickest and best relief is mom’s breast milk. 

The early milk produced right after birth, known as colostrum, contains antibodies that are highly concentrated and provide protection against a good many illnesses and diseases.  As breastmilk matures, it not only protects babies from a variety of diseases but also adds to a strengthened immune system. There are a good many qualities and benefits to breast milk with its ability to adapt being one of the greatest qualities of all.  Typically, a mother’s breast milk contains antibodies that are specific to the varied antigens along with a wide range of other substances that fight off diseases and protect the baby from common illnesses. The mother passes the antibodies on to her baby by way of her milk, which then destroys any bacteria that may find its way into the baby’s gastrointestinal tract before it can cause the baby to become ill.

How Breastfeeding Can Help with Common Illnesses

For first time moms, breastfeeding can bring on a variety of different questions including what to do when your baby is sick or mom is sick. If a baby does become ill, breastfeeding the child is one of the best solutions mom can offer.  Babies that become sick need to maintain their fluid intake, especially if they are experiencing diarrhea or vomiting.  Breastfeeding should be continued as usual without having to supplement the breast milk supply. However, if the baby becomes extremely sick and is unable to breastfeed, then be sure to provide the child with your stored expressed breast milk by way of a bottle or even a syringe or eyedropper if necessary.

Precautions to Take If Mom Is Sick

When mom finds herself faced with an illness such as a cold or flu, it is important for you to protect your baby from the same infection that you yourself are trying to fight off since your little one has a much higher risk of contracting the cold or flu and, as a result, may experience other health problems as well.  To avoid spreading your germs with the baby be sure to wash your hands often, cough or sneeze into a tissue and discard right away, try to avoid face to face contact with your little one, and maybe even don a face mask while breastfeeding the baby so you do not breathe in your little one’s face at all.  

If, however, you are extremely sick and unable to breastfeed, it would be a better option to have someone else feed your baby with your expressed breast milk by way of a bottle.  This will keep your child from becoming infected with your germs. A final thought – nursing mothers must be overly cautious about taking any medications for colds, flu or other illnesses while nursing their babies.  Different types of medications can have adverse effects on the baby such as irritability and extreme drowsiness. Many medications also tend to suppress milk supply for mom, so it’s best to avoid them. 

Free One-Day Breastfeeding Class

The team here at Riverside Medical Group takes tremendous pride in our top of the line clinic, our dedicated team of professionals and our top-rated services we provide all our patients.  With that said, be sure to enroll in our one-day free breastfeeding classes that will help you to learn about and better understand the benefits and advantages of breastfeeding. We also have a free one-day class in New Jersey for Prenatal Care. We hope to see you there!