Is it Safe to Breastfeed if I Have the Flu?

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Parents

I've been having flu-like symptoms lately, and I might have the flu. Is it safe to continue breastfeeding my baby?
Stacey

Yes, you can continue to breastfeed your baby, even if you are taking antiviral medicines for flu-like symptoms. A mother's breast milk is custom-made for her baby, providing specific antibodies that babies need to fight infection. So, continuing to breastfeed your baby can actually protect him or her from the infection that your body is fighting.

While you're sick, however, it's important to expose your baby to as few germs as possible. Babies are at higher risk of catching the flu and having health problems from it. So follow flu hygiene precautions, such as washing your hands often, coughing or sneezing into a tissue (and then throwing it away), and limiting close face-to-face contact with your baby. You might consider wearing a facemask during breastfeeding to avoid coughing, sneezing, or breathing directly into your baby's face.

If you're worried about your baby's risk or are too sick to breastfeed, pump your breast milk and have someone else feed your baby the expressed milk.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: July 2010

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Although we can't reply personally, you may see your question posted to this page in the future. If you're looking for medical advice, a diagnosis, or treatment, consult your doctor or other qualified medical professional. If this is an emergency, contact emergency services in your area.



Related Resources

Web SiteH1N1 (Swine) Flu Website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC's site has up-to-date information on H1N1 (swine) flu outbreaks, symptoms, prevention, and more.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
OrganizationLa Leche League This international organization offers support, encouragement, information, and education on breastfeeding.
Web SiteWomensHealth.gov Developed by the U.S. Office on Women's Health, 4woman offers reliable women's health information.


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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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