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Is it Safe to Breastfeed if I Have the Flu?

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

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

While you're sick, though, protect your baby from as many germs as possible. Babies have a higher risk of catching the flu and having health problems from it. So:

  • Wash your hands well and often, especially before touching your baby.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, and then throw it away.
  • Limit close face-to-face contact with your baby.

It's a good idea to wear a mask during breastfeeding to avoid coughing, sneezing, or breathing into your baby's face. Health experts recommend that anyone with flu-like symptoms wear a mask — at home if they're around other people, and when out in public — during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you're worried about your baby's risk or are too sick to breastfeed, pump your breast milk and have someone who is not sick use it to feed your baby. Also, doctors recommend the flu vaccine for babies and everyone else 6 months and older.

Call the doctor right away if your baby gets any flu-like symptoms.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD

Date reviewed: 09/15/2020

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