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Breastfeeding & the Flu

If I become sick with the flu, is it ok to breastfeed?

Yes.  As long as you feel you are able, you can continue to breastfeed whether you have a cold, flu, or other mild respiratory illness.  Alternatively, if you are not feeling up to breastfeeding, you can ask someone else who is not sick to give your baby your expressed breast milk by cup, syringe or bottle. 

There are many ways that breastfeeding and breast milk protect your baby’s health.  Babies who are breastfed get sick from infections like the flu less often and less severely than babies who are not breastfed. Also, when you are sick with the flu or a cold, your breast milk creates a matched defense for your baby because of your own present or past illness and you feed this protection in your breast milk to your baby.

It is important to note that the flu, and other respiratory illnesses, can be very serious in young babies. When you are feeding and caring for your baby, there are some things you can do to help protect your baby from getting sick.  These include: 

  • Continue breastfeeding, unless you are told to discontinue for medical reasons.
  • Get help to deal with other responsibilities at home or work. 
  • Stay home and rest.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when there is no soap and water available.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the wastebasket right away.  If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve. 
  • Keep common items and surfaces clean and disinfected.
  • Ask someone else in the home that is not sick to help care for your baby while you are resting.

If my baby is sick is it ok to breastfeed?

Yes. One of the best things you can do for your sick baby is to breastfeed him or her often. Babies who are sick need more fluids than when they are well. Breast milk is the best fluid for your baby, even better than water, juice, or oral rehydration solutions (eg:Pedialyte®) because it also helps to protect your baby’s immune system. If your baby is too sick to breastfeed, see a health care provider immediately.


For more information, contact your health care provider, call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000, or call 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 and speak with a public health professional Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or email Your Health Connection
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