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Is it Safe to Breastfeed if I Have the Flu?

I've been having flu-like symptoms lately, and I might have the flu. Is it safe to continue breastfeeding my baby?
Stacey

Yes, you can continue to breastfeed your baby, even if you are taking antiviral medicines for flu-like symptoms. A mother's breast milk is custom-made for her baby, providing specific antibodies that babies need to fight infection. So, continuing to breastfeed can actually protect your baby from the infection that your body is fighting.

While you're sick, however, it's important to protect your baby from as many germs as possible. Babies are at higher risk of catching the flu and having health problems from it. So:

  • wash your hands often
  • cough or sneeze into a tissue (and then throw it away)
  • limit close face-to-face contact with your baby

You might consider wearing a facemask during breastfeeding to avoid coughing, sneezing, or breathing directly into your baby's face.

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 feed your baby the expressed milk. Also, doctors recommend flu shots during flu season for babies and everyone else 6 months and older.

Contact the doctor if your baby develops any flu-like symptoms.

Date reviewed: September 2018