Thursday, March 7, 2013

Breastfeeding a sick baby

Being able to breastfeed a sick baby is one of the greatest benefits of breastfeeding.  I want to start with the caveat that their are a few diseases where a baby should not breastfeed.  These are generally genetic problems that leave an infant unable to digest breastmilk.  There are also premature infants who are too weak to extract enough milk from the breast that need breastmilk provided for them by gavage feedings.  If you have one of these situations the guidelines below might not apply.  Check with your medical provider.

But for those with normal babies who have caught an illness, breastfeeding is truly a gift!

1. You do not have to stop breastfeeding when baby is sick.  While it is generally recommended to avoid dairy with a vomiting or diarrhea illness and sometimes with a respiratory illness, this is not true for breastmilk!  You don't have to buy or make electrolyte solutions and then try desperately to get your baby to drink it!

2.  Breastfeeding is comforting for baby.  He will feel better while nursing.  Studies have shown breastfeeding to reduce the sensation of pain in infants.

3.  Baby will get antibodies for the illness from your breastmilk which will help her to get better faster.

4.  If baby has a respiratory illness you might have to clear out baby's nose before he will be able to nurse.  You do this with nasal saline and a bulb syringe.

5.  If you find that baby is vomiting after breastfeeding, she might be getting too much volume in her stomach.  When baby has a vomiting illness if there is too much in her stomach she is more likely to vomit.  That is why they recommend starting with small amounts of liquids.  You can do this by shortening a feeding time or emptying our breasts with a breast pump prior to feeding.

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