You know what's not fair? Falling ill when you're a mother. There really should be a law against it. But let's face it; generally, mamas are at the germ-filled frontline.
This is especially true for breastfeeding mums. We're the ones that get covered in vomit/snot/dubious bodily fluids 24/7. It's no wonder really that we end up with the lurgy ourselves.
Thing is, you can't just stop breastfeeding because you feel like rubbish. Very few babies (or toddlers for that matter) will accept a 'sorry, mummy doesn't feel like feeding right now, can you leave me alone to sleep for 12 hours?' So what's a boobin' mama to do?
We've pulled together our best tips to help you survive, at least until the Ibuprofen kicks in!
First things first though. Is it actually safe to breastfeed when you're unwell? The good news?! Generally, YES, it is absolutely safe to breastfeed with the majority of common illnesses (think colds, flu, stomach bugs, fever and mastitis). In fact, thanks to the antibacterial and antiviral elements of breastmilk, your baby will be given a potent dose of protective antibodies each time they feed. With less common illnesses, breastfeeding is often still possible, except for in the case of a few very rare conditions. It's always handy to speak with your GP however if you have concerns.
According to HealthDirect, the majority of common, over the counter and prescribed medications are safe to take while breastfeeding. Paracetamol, ibuprofen, some antibiotics, non-drowsy antihistamines (that don't contain fexofenadine and cetirizine), asthma medication and decongestant nasal sprays are generally considered safe to take while feeding. It's always a good idea to tell the pharmacist (or whoever is purchasing medication for you) that you're breastfeeding and require something that is safe for that so that they can check or advise you properly.
Try and avoid: Antihistamines that make you drowsy and/or contain fexofenadine and cetirizine. Medications that contain pseudoephedrine. Medications that contain Iodine. Strong painkillers that contain codeine and/or tramadol.
Your best bet? Speak to your GP or pharmacist.
Image source: The Thud
Breastfeeding when you feel like death is not fun. Unfortunately, short of employing a wet-nurse, it's something that you'll have to grit your teeth and push through. The best way to manage?
As a breastfeeding mama, you'll know that your milk supply is an ever-changing beast. Whether sickness will impact your supply really depends on the type of illness, how long it lasts, how old your bub is and what your usual supply is like. A short illness generally shouldn't impact your supply to any great extent, especially if you're still feeding regularly.
A stomach bug or illness where you struggle to eat and/or keep down fluids may be more problematic, but ensuring that you stay as hydrated as possible will help. If your baby becomes fussy or frustrated waiting for a letdown while you're sick, you can try breast compressions or gentle massage to help get your milk flowing a little faster.
If you need help or advice, you can contact The Australian Breastfeeding Association helpline on 1800 686 268.
If you need to give your supply a boost post sickness, check out our range of natural (and delicious) milk boosters here.