Is Breastfeeding While Sick Safe for Baby?

Breastfeeding while sick can be a draining and stressful situation for Mom. There tend to be so many questions surrounding this topic with safety being the primary concern.

There are many do's and don'ts when it comes to breastfeeding while sick. It is a beautiful and confusing time for most moms, and when Mom gets sick, it adds another element to the mix. Moms often wonder what they should do when they get ill and are still breastfeeding.


breastfeeding tip

This is a topic almost every breastfeeding mother is forced to broach at some point. The quick and straightforward answer is yes.

Maternal infections of the gastrointestinal tract do not pose a risk to infants except in rare circumstances when septicemia occurs and bacteria might reach the milk. even in this event, continue breastfeeding while the mother receives appropriate antibiotic therapy that is compatible with breastfeeding...(Source)

Dr. Ruth Lawrence

By the time Mom realizes she is sick Baby has already been exposed to the illness. Milk will not transfer the ailment, but it does have antibodies that were created by Mom's body that will help prevent Baby from getting sick. When it comes to having a fever and breastfeeding, most of the time it is perfectly fine.

Most doctors will actually advise mothers to continue breastfeeding and if for whatever reason Mom gets uncomfortable she can always pump.


women vomiting in toilet

As long as Mom's illness and symptoms lie within the gastrointestinal tract only (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and etc.), it is perfectly safe to breastfeed Baby. Although this may be uncomfortable Baby will not get sick. If one gets septicemia, when it passes into the blood stream, then it is time to stop breastfeeding.

At this point, Mom would be really ill and possibly hospitalized.


women vomiting in toilet

Many remedies can be used while breastfeeding with a cold or with general allergy ailments. Mom should always consult with her healthcare provider before actually choosing a treatment route.

General Remedies for Allergies and Colds

  • Drink lots of water and get plenty of rest.
  • Consume garlic in any form. Raw is best if you can stand it as it is not easy to ingest.
  • Take hot baths. It never hurts to add essential oils.
  • Run a humidifier.

Congestion Chest and Head

  • Sprinkle a minuscule amount of cayenne pepper on your food.
  • Use essential oils. Place a drop or two of eucalyptus or peppermint oil on a cotton ball and hold it near your nose. Breath in and out deeply.
  • Utilize steam treatments. Boil water and add few drops of oil. You can cover your head with a towel as you lean over the steam and breath in deeply.

A sore throat and Coughs

  • Use a salt water gargle or apple cider vinegar and water gargle.
  • Lozenges and sore throat sprays are considered relatively harmless but avoid cough drops with menthol as they can affect milk supply.
  • Drink hot lemonade with honey, strong black tea, or Earl gray tea with lemon juice and honey for relief.


women vomiting in toilet

Most women are weary when it comes to taking medication when breastfeeding. Sometimes the pros will outweigh the cons depending on the mother's ailments. Keep in mind that there will be some traces of most any medication within the breastmilk and this is why before taking anything one should always consult their physician.

"If possible take medications that are given only once a day right after a feeding when your baby wil have the longest period without nursing. (source)

The answer to this general question is yes you can take some over the counter medications when breastfeeding while sick, but not all medications are safe. It is important to look at the active ingredients and treat for the particular issue that you are having as opposed to taking a medication with lots of active ingredients. Most medications are safe to take while breastfeeding and for those that are not there are plenty of alternatives.

Consulting your health care provider would be the best route just to be safe.


A common question moms ask is "What cold medicine can I take while breastfeeding?" With the vast amount of over the counter options, it can be confusing and overwhelming trying to figure out wich are safe. It is always a good idea to get a list from your physician.

women vomiting in toilet

Take into consideration the general health of Baby before taking any type of medicine even ones that are deemed safe. Premature babies may have different reactions to trace amounts of medicines than a healthy newborn.

Many moms ask, "Can I take Robitussin?" or "Can I take Tylenol?" The answer is yes and no. There are so many variations of these medications. Some are not entirely safe for the breastfeeding mother.

Diphenhydramine is considered a safe, active ingredient as opposed to Sudafed. Diphenhydramine may make Baby sleepy whereas Sudafed could make her jittery. The absolute best thing to do is to consult a professional.

Click here for a list of medications.


There are times that are breastfeeding while sick is not an option. Here is a list of some of those instances:

  • If you have active or untreated Tuberculosis.
  • Moms who are currently taking antiretroviral medications.
  • Mothers diagnosed with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
  • Those who are taking cancer chemotherapy agents or undergoing radiation therapy.
  • Women who use illegal drugs should not breastfeed.

In these cases, one should consult closely with your health care provider as breastfeeding is not advised.

While it is tiresome for Mom, most illnesses do not interfere with breastfeeding. That can be a relief especially when she doesn't feel well. It can take a small bit of stress and worry away from Mom.

If at any point in time you are unsure of what to take or how to treat your illness do not hesitate to contact your healthcare professional. A great thing to keep in mind is that your physician will know you specifically and will be able to better advise you on the treatment that would be best.

women vomiting in toilet

Breastfeeding while sick can be a safe and manageable task so Don't worry Mom and continue doing a great job nourishing Baby!


Feature Image Source:

One Response

Add a Comment