You’ve done it. The birth is over, you are back home and into the postpartum period during which your body can recover from the efforts of the last weeks and days. But now you've caught a cold. A cold and cough alone are unpleasant enough. Add to that aching limbs and fatigue, and everyday life with a baby can become a real challenge. However, simply reaching for flu medicine now is not a good idea. Some remedies can pass into breast milk and harm the baby. First and foremost, you should get plenty of rest and sleep and drink as much fluids as possible in the form of teas and soups. If you have a fever, you should definitely see a doctor. It is important to determine the cause. After childbirth, fever can also be due to inflammation in your the uterus, breasts or caesarean wound.
If you have a simple cold, you can continue to breastfeed your baby without worry. Typical signs of a normal cold are cough, sniffling or sore throat. You don't have to worry about infecting your baby through breastfeeding. On the contrary, breast milk is even more important for the baby now. When you have a cold yourself, your body creates antibodies against the pathogens. You pass these antibodies on to your child through your breastmilk. You'll boost their immune system. In addition, babies still have what’s known as maternal passive immunity in the first months of life. This means that they are relatively less susceptible to disease for quite a while after birth. It is good to know that common colds are not transmitted via breastmilk, but via droplet infection. That's why you should pay more attention to hygiene while you have a cold. It is best to wash your hands regularly before and after breastfeeding. This reduces the risk of infection. Patients often report that their babies are less likely to fall ill or that infections are milder if they continue to be breastfed while their mother has a cold.
A ‘flu-like’ infection is a severe cold and weakens the body much more than a simple cold. Typical flu-like symptoms are chills, headache and aching limbs, cough and hoarseness. Sometimes a severe sore throat or earache also occurs. If your head is pounding, your nose is running, the baby is crying and you are totally exhausted, you don't have to completely give up painkillers or cold remedies. However, before you take any medication, you should consult your midwife or doctor. They can tell you which home remedies like compresses, inhalations or teas help best and which medications are safe.
A real flu - short for influenza - is rather rare, but can be very severe. The signs of the disease usually appear suddenly, for example within a few hours. It begins abruptly with severe muscle and joint pain, chills, fever and sweating. This is often accompanied by a nagging headache. Shortly thereafter, high fever, difficulty breathing, and a nagging dry cough and sore throat usually set in. The whole body is affected. Those who go through a real flu usually need several days of bed rest. The healing process takes much longer. You may still feel weak even after several weeks. You can continue to breastfeed even if you have a real flu. You should protect your baby from infection, though. The best way to help is to wash not only your own hands frequently with soap, but also the baby's, and also to wear a facemask that covers your nose and mouth while breastfeeding. You can and should continue to have lots of skin contact with your child. However, you should not kiss them as long as you have signs of illness, and always turn away from the baby when sneezing or coughing. In addition, toys, pacifiers and all objects that come into contact with the infant's mouth should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water beforehand. If you feel too exhausted to breastfeed, you can pump your milk and bottle feed the baby.