With all the news regarding H1N1 and how to stay protected, there is some concern for lactating mothers and their babies. Here are some ideas, which can help both you and your babies continue with a productive breastfeeding experience.
According to Dr. Jack Newman, it is NOT necessary to “pump and dump” breast milk, should Mom have H1N1. As Dr. Newman notes,
” By the time the mother has symptoms she has passed the virus on to the baby [or babies]. So the baby’s best protection is to continue breastfeeding. Even if that weren’t the case, that the baby already has the virus, the baby’s best protection is breastfeeding. What do those people think all those immune factors in the milk are for? To put on medical school exams? No, they protect the baby.”
Don’t cough on your babies either while nursing or when you are close. Turn your head away should you need to sneeze or sneeze/cough into your elbow. If you are feeling ill, consider wearing a mask while nursing. If you are really feeling badly, try pumping and have someone whom is not sick feed the babies pumped breastmilk. Wash your hands before breastfeeding, or use an alcohol based sanitizer. Wash your breasts and hands carefully after feeding. Keep your fluids up, eat nutritiously and get as much sleep as you can.
Babies breathing passages are very small and it can be difficult for a sick baby to nurse and breath. Using a humidifier to keep the air moist may help. If one, both or all babies are too sick to suckle, try using an eye dropper full of your breast milk or sippy cup. Sick babies need lots of fluids and breast milk is a great way to make sure their fluid levels are kept up.
Mother’s milk is full of antibodies which, as we are all aware, are very beneficial to babies and help protect them from viruses and other illnesses. Continue nursing so that the babies can benefit from the antibodies. If Mom is sick, her body continues to fight the virus and nursing babies can benefit from the antibodies Mom passes along to her babies.
For Further Information
Some of these sites also contain information for pregnant women and how the H1N1 virus could/might affect your pregnancy.