Breastfeeding During Illness – Can Illness Be A Reason To Stop Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding During Illness – Can Illness Be A Reason To Stop Breastfeeding?

22 Nov 2018 | 3 min Read

Dr Deepali Shahasane

Author | 3 Articles

Most people wrongly believe that one should stop breastfeeding during illness; however, very few maternal illnesses require stopping of breastfeeding.

Should a mother stop breastfeeding if she is  sick?

So many times, a mother develops an infection and does not realize it. By  the time the cold and cough symptoms appear in the mother, the baby has been exposed to the infection, but is perfectly fine. In fact, breastmilk helps the baby fight against the infection as the mother’s milk contains antibodies that protect the baby.

Thus, a mother may realize that her baby does not fall sick even if she was breastfeeding during the illness.

Breastfeeding while sick with minor illnesses like a cough and cold or a stomach upset is perfectly alright. As long as the mother is comfortable and not feeling weak, she can continue breastfeeding during illness. If the mother is on medications, since most medications reach the mother’s milk in very small amounts, they are no more harmful than formulated milk.

So you can now stop asking yourself the question, “can I breastfeed if I have a cold?”, and go ahead and breastfeed your baby.

When you are unwell, abruptly stopping breastfeeding is not at all a good idea since it puts you at risk for breast engorgement, infection of the breasts, and emotional distress.

“Can I take cold remedies during breastfeeding?”

Most cold and cough medicines can be taken while breastfeeding.


  • Analgesics (medicines that relieve pain) like ibuprofen and diclofenac are considered to be compatible with breastfeeding since only up to 0.65% of the medicine dose is passed into breast milk. Avoid higher doses when a regular dosage works well. However, with aspirin, around 10% of the medicine is passed into breast milk; therefore, it is not recommended when breastfeeding.
  • Diphenhydramine may make your little one a bit drowsy but should be okay otherwise. However, any reaction noted in the baby, no matter how small, should be reported to your doctor immediately.


Taking a cough syrup while breastfeeding is considered safe except when the cough syrup contains menthol, which can reduce the milk flow.


What precautions should I take while breastfeeding my baby if I am unwell?

You should increase your water intake during illness so that you  are not dehydrated. One may notice reduced breast milk quantity during the illness and even a few days after. But not to worry, just continue feeding, and the milk supply will quickly be back to normal once you start feeling better.

Also, you should rest enough, and take three meals and three snacks a day. So all those breastfeeding moms, breastfeeding while sick is safe unless the doctor advises otherwise.





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