Breastfeeding a sick baby can be challenging for both Mom and baby. Baby needs to nurse for comfort and benefits from the antibodies in breast milk, but being sick may make it difficult to nurse well. I’m often happy to catch whatever germ my baby has because I know I’ll make the antibodies he needs to get well. However, symptoms like a stuffy nose, fatigue, fever and generally not feeling well can interfere with nursing. How do you breastfeed a sick baby? As often as you can! I’ll tell you my experience:
“Breastfeeding has been shown to be protective against many illnesses, including painful ear infections, upper and lower respiratory ailments, allergies, intestinal disorders, colds, viruses, staph, strep and e coli infections, diabetes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, many childhood cancers, meningitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, salmonella, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS) as well as lifetime protection from Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, some lymphomas, insulin dependent diabetes, and for girls, breast and ovarian cancer.” (1). However, breastfed babies can still get sick. One thing that we know for sure, is that breast feeding a sick baby helps them through their illness. Unfortunately, it can be difficult.
I remember taking my first son to the pediatrician “Stay away from other children, they carry tons of germs.” She warned. This was easy with one baby, however as the Mom to 4 babies…keeping my baby away from other children is literally impossible. When he caught his first cold, luckily several months after he was born, we had a few hurdles. The primary issue was having a stuffy nose. When my baby breastfeeds, he breaths through his nose. If his nose is stuffy…it makes for one seriously unhappy baby who can’t do his favorite comforting activity ever…breastfeeding!
Clearing Nasal Stuffiness
Breast Feeding On-Demand
While I often find myself at the pediatrician, learning that I didn’t really need to go to the pediatrician…it’s nice to hear that baby is just getting over a viral hurdle and will be better soon. When all else fails, sucking out boogers, using our lillebaby carrier, humidifier and nursing a lot don’t help, I like to make a phone call. I feel fortunate that our pediatrician will even take all of my kids at one visit to make sure we’re all well!
If your baby is feeling stuffy, teething or fighting a stomach bug, breast milk is a wonderful addition to his immune system. It hydrates, provides antibodies and even comes at the right temperature. Remember to nurse on demand, use a cool mist humidifier and suction out boogers if needed and call the pediatrician if necessary. When baby isn’t happy…no one is happy!Remember to watch for wet/dirty diapers, check for temperature and watch for signs of lethargy and vital signs. If you’re concerned it doesn’t hurt to make a trip, but having supplies at home can make getting through a cold much easier on everyone.