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Can I breastfeed my baby if I am sick?

Mothers have breastfed their babies through a variety of illnesses, from colds and infections to chronic conditions including asthma and diabetes. Your baby is exposed to any illness you have before you know you are sick. One of the beauties of human milk is that when your body makes antibodies to combat an illness, these antibodies are passed directly into your milk, giving protection and disease-fighting abilities to your baby, too.

Inspiring stories from mothers who have experienced health challenges while breastfeeding can be found here. These mothers found creative solutions to enable them to continue breastfeeding while caring for their health. With the support of your health care professional and your La Leche League Leader, you can find a solution appropriate for you.

In rare cases, a health care professional may recommend weaning due to a mother's medical condition. This article discusses resources that are available to you and your health care professional when the important question of weaning arises. Most conditions, however, can be treated without weaning. Be sure to contact your local La Leche League Leader for support as you and your health care professional work together. Through education and dialogue, you and your health care professional can develop a safe course of treatment, taking into consideration both your needs and your baby's.

Note: The September 2001 Policy Statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics entitled, "The Transfer of Drugs and Other Chemicals Into Human Milk", can be found at American Academy of Pediatrics

Resources for Additional Information

These items may be available from the LLLI Online Store or through your local Leader.

When a Nursing Mother Gets Sick tells why breastfeeding can continue even if a mother gets sick; discusses the effects of medications on the nursing baby.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, published by La Leche League International, is the most complete resource available for the breastfeeding mother. It contains a section on breastfeeding while ill. (Softcover, 465 pages.)

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