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Can You Continue Breastfeeding If You Have Food Poisoning Or The Flu?

By Susan Schade
 
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A special evening, that included eating out, ended wrong. Very wrong. By 11:00 that night, I became violently ill and spent the next 5 hours in the bathroom, praying for anything that could put me out of my misery.

That was the first of only two times that I have ever had food poisoning. If you have ever experienced it, then you know just how bad it is. So horrible that you think, “This must be what dying feels like.” And despite my unbearable thirst, my body rejected any sip of liquid.

I was so weak by morning that I could barely walk back to my bed. My husband came to me, holding our hungry 5 month old son. I was hardly able to lift my head but I panicked. My baby needed milk and I was sick. Could I still nurse him if I had food poisoning?

I called a resource number that I received from the hospital for the La Leche League. The woman that I spoke with assured me that yes, it was safe to nurse my son, even if I was sick. Here is additional information that I found while researching this topic.

“When a mother gets food poisoning, the bacteria stays in her intestinal tract, so the baby is protected from it.” (breastfeeding.com)

More helpful information was found on kellymom.com. “If a mom has food poisoning, breastfeeding should continue. As long as the symptoms are confined to the gastrointestinal tract (vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps), breastfeeding should continue without interruption as there is no risk to the baby.”

Kellymom.com also explains, “During any "ordinary" illness such as a cold, sore throat, flu, tummy bug, or fever you should continue to breastfeed. The best thing you can do for your baby when you're sick is to continue to breastfeed. When you have a contagious illness such as a cold, flu, or other mild virus, your baby was exposed to the illness before you even knew you were sick. Your milk will not transmit your illness to baby, but it does have antibodies in it that are specific to your illness (plus anything else you or baby have been exposed to) - they'll help prevent baby from getting sick, or if he does get sick, he'll probably not be as sick as you.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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