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Can I breastfeed if I become ill?

Even if you become ill, you should absolutely continue to breast feed.  Your breast milk can actually help protect your infant from catching your cold.  Your body begins making antibodies against an illness as soon as you become infected.  This means that before you even realize you are sick your body is already making antibodies that pass through your breast milk to protect your baby.   Since your baby was most likely exposed to your illness before you even started feeling sick, if you stop nursing there is an even greater chance that she will catch your cold.  Because breast milk provides immune protection, often breast fed babies do not catch their mom’s cold, or if they do, they get a milder illness.  It’s still a good idea to wash your hands before touching your baby, and avoid directly coughing or sneezing on her. 
In rare cases your doctor may recommend that you stop nursing because of a serious illness, medication or treatment that you need.  Talk to your pediatrician because there may still be a way to continue feeding your baby breast milk or to pump until it is safe to begin breastfeeding your baby again.

Yes! Most common illnesses, such as colds, flu, or diarrhea, can't be passed through breast milk, and your milk will have antibodies in it to help protect your baby from getting the same sickness.

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

Maternal illness in no way should make a nursing mother stop breast feeding.  Your baby has already been exposed to your illness by being close to you during the early stages of your illness.  The added maternal antibodies of breast milk can actually help the baby fight the infection.  If you have a lot of respiratory symptoms like cough and runny nose, it would be a good idea to wear a mask while nursing.  Good handwashing is an absolute must when anyone in the household is sick.  If your doctor is going to prescribe medication, make sure they know that you are breastfeeding to help them choose the safest medication for you and your baby.

In most cases, it’s fine for an ill mother to keep nursing her baby. In fact, for most common infectious illnesses, continuing to breastfeed will help protect your baby. You pass on valuable infection fighters, called antibodies, through your milk. Illnesses where you need to stop breastfeeding are rare and tend to be more serious (like HIV infection).
Generally it is okay and recommended that you continue to breastfeed if you are ill. It can even be beneficial to the baby because you are transferring antibodies to the baby that will help fight off infection. This is true of illnesses such as colds and conditions such as mastitis (an infection of the milk ducts in the breast). However, it is always good to check with your doctor, as there are conditions in which it would be advisable to stop breastfeeding temporarily, such as if you were taking a medicine that can affect your breast milk and the baby.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.