Breastfeeding through Cold and Flu

The sniffle season is upon us. This household is down with cold & flu, all thanks to the toddler, who invited the flu viruses with open arms. He gets super cuddly when he is sick and generously passed the germs to me. Since I’m still nursing Little Miss, there was not much I could do but wait until for the cold to run its course. I’m usually not so good at taking any medicines, you will have to stick it through my throat to make me eat one. So I went about trying all natural remedies known to me (and my Mom).

There is a lot of speculation about breastfeeding while being sick. Recently, a fellow mom asked for opinions on a Facebook page, whether or not she can nurse her baby since she was coming down with cold. So, I thought I will address it here. Here are some things you can do to prevent your baby from catching your cold.

  • Wear a mask: Wearing a mask, especially with little children and kids around you, can prevent the spread of cold & flu viruses. While it can be debated, whether it is needed or not, it is better to take as much precaution as possible. It is said that wearing a mask reduces the chance of spreading of germs by 70%. When I start to feel the symptoms, I ask my husband to pick up some face masks from the nearby clinic and always put in on while I’m breastfeeding.
  • Continue to Breastfeed: But won’t I give the viruses to my baby? NO! It actually works the other way around. Your body is amazing and works in a way you can’t even imagine! Your body recognizes the viruses even before you start to feel any of the symptoms. From that moment on, your body works to protect your baby by passing anti bodies through your breastmilk. So, by the time you start to feel the symptoms, your body has already created the first line of defense for your baby against these viruses. While it doesn’t guarantee your baby from catching a cold, it does, however, helps your baby fight against these infections in a better way.
  • Sanitize: While proper hand washing and sanitizing is always necessary, it is to be religiously practiced while you are sick and dealing with babies.

Even after meticulously taking all the preventive measures, sometimes your baby might fall sick and get your cold. If your baby is younger than 3 months, call your doctor, as newborns have a very weak immune system and a cold can possibly turn into pneumonia or croup. For older babies, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor, if they refuse to nurse, running a fever or having a persistent cold (See here)*. Here are some home remedies, that you can try to make your baby feel better.

  • Saline water & Nose Frida: Babies struggle to breastfeed when they have a cold. It is important to make sure that their nasal passages are clear and not stuffed with mucus. When you see your baby breathing with her mouth or unlatching to catch up on a breath, you should know that her nostrils are stuffed and she is struggling to breathe. 15 mins before you plan to breastfeed, run a few drops of saline water on both the nostrils, after 15 mins, gently suck out the mucus from her nose. Repeat it, while following the instructions.
  • Steaming: Run the shower in the bathroom until the room is covered with steam and take your baby inside. Steaming clear sinus and nasal congestion.
  • Humidifier: Moisture from the humidifier makes it easy for babies to breathe and reduces irritation.
  • For snotty noses: To clean snotty noses, don’t use the store-bought wipes. Instead, you can use cloth wipes, you can either wet them with warm water (with a drop of coconut oil) or you can do what I do. I use Les Produits De Maya linement to wipe my kid’s nose, its organic, natural and easy on baby’s sensitive skin.

It’s not all about the baby, right? Mums need to feel better too. Here’s what you can do:

  • Steaming: Steaming is as good for you as it is for the baby. I usually steam from the pot with a towel over my head. You will have to make sure you don’t burn yourself though. Adding a few drops of Eucalyptus oil can give you an extra kick. Steaming is a great way to relieve sinuses. I usually steam for 15-20 minutes, I always feel light, like a weight has come off my head, after steaming. If you are not a fan of the traditional steaming method, try taking a hot bath.
  • Hot Fluids: Drink up a lot of fluids, preferably warm liquids. My go-to recipe when I’m down with cold is water with lemon, ginger, and honey. I boil water in a pot with some ginger in it. Then I filter the water, squeeze some lemon and add a teaspoon of honey. Honey soothes a sore throat, lemon is rich in Vitamin C and ginger is therapeutic. I even make a batch of this, store it in my thermos and sip every time my throat feels sore. I also drink a glass of milk with a pinch of turmeric and cayenne pepper, tastes awful, but it is a superfood to battle cold.
  • Clear the nostrils: We all tend to sniff it in. We all do. Don’t do that. Sneeze it out. Close one nostril with your fingers and gently blow through the other and repeat it with the other side. If possible, run to the bathroom and wash your face with warm water. Trust me, it is worth the umpteenth trip to the bathroom. Washing your face will make you less fatigue, reduces inflammation and clears sinuses. Another great way for instant relief is to use a hot compress (or a wash cloth dipped in warm water ) and wipe your face with it.
  • Gargle with salt water: This helps so much with a sore throat and dry coughs. I do this first thing in the morning and before I head to bed. Add a teaspoon of salt to boiled warm water, gargle it and spit it out.
  • Tylenol: If all else fails, don’t feel guilty to pop in these bad boys. Of course, stick to the instructions.

Is there a natural home remedy that you do to battle cold? Let me know in comments below.

Take care & Feel Better!

Nancy.

*Disclaimer: This article in only for informative purposes. Mom’s Little Feat is not responsible for any consequence for following this. Always consult a doctor before taking any medication.

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