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Breastfeeding Mums Get Sick Too – What to Do?

When Nina and Manav found out that they were about to be parents, it was the happiest day of their lives. However, even through her happiness, Nina was somewhat apprehensive. Having lost her mother at a fairly young age and with her mother-in-law living hundreds of miles away with failing health, Nina had no maternal influence to guide and assure her through the different stages of pregnancy. Although the couple had read many books and online journals regarding pregnancy, they were still slightly unsure and unnerved.

However, with the assistance and reassurance of their gynaecologist Dr Khuranna, they were able to experience a smooth and healthy pregnancy. In the month of December, the couple was blessed with a lovely little girl who they named Naina. All was well until the day Nina fell ill. A month after Naina was born; Nina came down with severe cough and cold along with fever. Like any mother, Nina’s primary concern was for her daughter. Nina’s breast milk was Naina’s only source of sustenance, but the new mother was worried if it would be safe to breastfeed her month old daughter in her unwell state. When she tried to use a bottle to feed her baby, Naina refused to take the bottle as she was more used to being breastfed by her mother.

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“What if she gets infected with common cold through me? What if she catches the fever from me?” These thoughts constantly plagued Nina. With Dr. Khuranna being out of the city for a conference, the couple was unable to get in touch with her. Not knowing what to do, the new parents were getting more and more anxious and restless. Finally, help came to them in the form of their neighbour Mrs. Gupta who was a retired paediatrician.

 

Mrs. Gupta informed Nina that “Since most illnesses are caused by viruses that are most contagious, prior to you even realizing you are sick, your baby has already been exposed before you even develop symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, runny nose, cough, etc. Continuing to breastfeed will help protect your baby from the infection, because your body produces antibodies to the specific bug that is causing the infection, and you pass them on to the baby in your breast milk.”[1]

She also suggested some simple precautions that a nursing mother can take in order to reduce the risk of infecting their baby.

  • Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Maintaining hygiene by frequently washing hands with hot water and soap, and using a sanitizer.
  • Do not litter the baby’s nursery or the bedroom with used tissues.

Thanks to Mrs. Gupta’s advice and suggestions, Nina was not only able to make a full recovery but also successfully prevented Naina from falling ill.

Sources used:

https://www.breastfeedingbasics.com/articles/when-a-nursing-mother-gets-sick
http://www.babycenter.in/x1050100/can-i-breastfeed-my-baby-if-i-have-a-fever
[1] When a Nursing Mother Gets Sick – Anne Smith, IBCLC – Edited September 2015 (https://www.breastfeedingbasics.com/articles/when-a-nursing-mother-gets-sick)

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