Now that the flu season is in full swing, many of us are dealing with sore throats, sniffles and worse. If you are a breastfeeding mom, and a “bug” has got you down, you may be wondering what you can do to help keep your baby from getting sick.
Luckily, your breast milk is the very best medicine that you can give your baby, and you may be offering this protection before you even feel that you are getting sick! With most viruses, which cause colds and many stomach upsets, you are infectious but also producing antibodies before you start to have symptoms. These antibodies pass into your breast milk, so tuck into bed, keep your baby close at hand and continue to breastfeed if at all possible. No matter how lousy I felt, it was so comforting to hold my baby!
Frequent hand washing is always a good idea, especially when you (or anyone else in your family) are under the weather. Keep hand sanitizer handy in case you just don’t have the energy to get up and wash your hands before you pick up your baby. If you do need to visit your health care provider or want to buy over the counter medicine to reduce your symptoms, be sure to consult about which medications are safe for breastfeeding women. For example, I remember being advised to use a nasal spray for my stuffy nose instead of taking a pill which has a drying effect throughout the body.
To protect yourself from the flu, which can be a serious and long-lasting illness, you should get a flu vaccine every year. The flu vaccine is safe and recommended for breastfeeding and pregnant women and all household members of infants under six months who cannot themselves have the vaccine. To keep your baby well and to keep everyone around your baby healthy, make sure to get the flu shot so you can enjoy the winter months as a family.
About this guest blogger:
Sue Gierszewski RN – Has worked in Public Health for over 25 years, supporting families in their parenting journey from prenatal through the early years. Recently, much of her time is spent on breastfeeding promotion and support. Outside of work, she enjoys adventurous travel in the great outdoors and spending time with her family.
We hope this winter you and your baby stay healthy!
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.