I've been having flu-like symptoms, and I might have the flu. Is it safe to keep breastfeeding my baby?
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.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue (and then throw it away).
- Limit close face-to-face contact with your baby.
You might want to wear a mask during breastfeeding to avoid coughing, sneezing, or breathing into your baby's face. This can help protect your baby and others in your household from any respiratory virus that causes these symptoms (such as RSV and coronavirus), even if it's not the flu.
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 during flu season 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: November 2022