You don't have to tell me it's flu season... my supposedly "great immune system" was no match for this bug I've been battling for the past few days. It seems everyone and their mother has come down with some kind of cold or flu bug, and new mothers - their immune systems weakened by a recent birth and subsequent exhaustion - are at risk.
If you have yet to catch the bug, the CDC recommends the flu shot
for pregnant women and mothers of infants under 6 months of age. The
vaccine is fully compatible with breastfeeding and pregnancy. Though
adverse effects have been wildly hyped, a 19-year review by the CDC in
conjunction with the Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System found "no unusual patterns of pregnancy complications or fetal outcomes" in pregnant women receiving a seasonal flu vaccine.
Of course people have legitimate concerns regarding injections during
pregnancy, and I'm certainly not qualified to make benefit/risk
assessments, so I'd encourage you to discuss any safety concerns with
your care provider.
A question I've been getting a lot lately is, if you get the flu, should you quit breastfeeding to avoid exposure to your child?
The answer to this is a vehement no! And here's why.
one, there's a chance you've been contagious since before you had any
symptoms, and even if you weren't, it's highly unlikely that nursing is
the only close contact you're going to have with your baby unless you're
somehow able to pass off all caregiving responsibilities to someone
else. Influenza is extremely contagious, and simply living in the same
house with someone who's infected puts your baby at risk.
Even more importantly, if you have caught the flu, your body is busy producing a wealth of antibodies against
that specific strain, antibodies that readily pass through your milk to
your baby. I can't tell you how many times I hear a story about every
adult and child in a family coming down with the flu, but the one
breastfed baby makes it through the season without ever showing a
symptom despite her/his immature immune system. If baby does become ill,
breastfeeding will provide current antibodies to facilitate a quicker
recovery. What's more, a baby nursing actively from her/his mother is
getting other benefits conducive to healing: skin-level antibodies, plenty of hydration on demand, warmth, comfort, and pain relief.
sick baby is very stressful and can be scary, and don't let flu-like
symptoms go unexamined; if you believe your child is getting sick,
consult your health care provider for complete treatment and diagnosis.
But remember, breastfeeding will provide comfort and closeness to help
you both make it through the season. Just keep nursing!!