It's pretty miserable when you have a hacking cough, body aches, and a fever from a cold and the flu, especially when you're breastfeeding a baby! You're uncomfortable with your symptoms, and you're concerned that your baby might get sick too. Nursing moms have to be cautious about what medicine and herbs they can take while they are sick. So, today's episode of apothecary wisdom will help you know what herbs and natural remedies are safe for breastfeeding moms. You have too much on your shoulders to be sick for long!
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How Breastfeeding Affects Immunity
When you're sick and breastfeeding, it is common to worry about what medications are safe, dehydration, dip in milk supply, are you contagious? I hear moms ask, "If I keep nursing my baby when I have a cold, with they catch it too?"
This is a huge concern. And to address it, I need to remind you I'm not a doctor. And any time you are concerned about your health, please seek the care of a medical professional! This information is for educational purposes only!
Remember, the symptoms you are experiencing are our bodies' immune response to an illness, not the infection itself. So, in reality, your baby has already been exposed to the illness before you ever noticed your first symptom. So, stopping breastfeeding when you start coughing or have a fever won't change the baby's exposure to the pathogen causing your illness. Once you notice symptoms, the baby has already been exposed to the pathogen and your antibodies.
In order to protect you and your baby, your amazing immune system produced antibodies the moment it came in contact with the contagion. These antibodies circulate throughout your body and in your breastmilk. They go around looking for the pathogen and eliminating it.
Your breasts have immune receptors located on your areola, called Montgomery Glands. These immune receptors communicate with your immune system and the babies. When the baby puts its mouth on your breast, it sends a signal to your immune system telling it in great detail about every pathogen it was just exposed to. Your maternal powerhouse immune system immediately sends specific antibodies to the baby to protect it against invading viruses, bacteria, or other pathogens. This is a beautiful example of the power and protection of breastfeeding.
In other words, if you have a cough, cold, or flu, keep breastfeeding like normal. Your baby won't catch the illness through your breast milk – in fact, it will contain antibodies to reduce her risk of getting the same bug. Not only is it safe, breastfeeding while sick is a good idea.
Here are some helpful tips and ideas so you can feel better. When you feel better, you can sleep better; then you can recover faster. We really want to make sure you are not skipping too many nursing sessions. When you miss a feed, you can run into clogged ducts, which can lead to mastitis. Or missed nursing sessions can lead to a low milk supply.
Breastfeeding with a Cold
The common cold is not too much to be concerned about unless it is recurring. Almost everyone gets at least one cold during the cold and flu season. Colds can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, and they can also be seen as an opportunity to challenge and strengthen yours and your baby's immune system.
At the first sign of a cold:
- Start drinking a lot of liquids, such as water and teas, and rehydration drinks.
- Avoid sugary drinks such as juice.
- Rest- nurse in bed. Practice side-lying nursing
- Feed a cold with a pot of soup, healthy bone broth soup.
- Gather your immune-strengthening herbs. (I will go over the best herbs in a moment)
Breastfeeding with a Cough
There is nothing like a dry hacking cough caused by a tickle in the back of your throat or that heavy, wet cough that keeps up all night.
When you start coughing, valuate your wellness plan:
- Eliminate mucus-causing foods- wheat, gluten, dairy, sugar, OJ
- Put moisture back in the air so your throat and sinuses won't be so dry by running the humidifier with herbs or essential oils.
- Make an herbal steam, gargle, and bath to clear the lungs and treat the infection.
- Drink throat-soothing teas.
- Make herbal popsicles
- Suck on herbal lozenges
I've created an Free Herbs for Kids ebook and online course if you'd like to learn how to make all of these things for your self. The recipes and information is great for you as well as your children. I invite you to enroll now!
Children's Healing Herb Bath is absolutely one of my favorite herbal blends for clearing the lungs and sinuses. It is also great for easing the pain and tension associated with prolonged coughing. It can be made into either a bath, steam, or gargle—or all three for maximum effectiveness—The bath comes with all the instructions, but if you'd like to learn more, see my video called:
I combine Children's Healing Herb Bath and Children's Respiratory Support Tincture to combat lung and sinus congestion, throat soreness, and body aches. These remedies complement each other while supporting your respiratory and immune systems. Like I mentioned before, what you don't use. Keep and it for the next time your child gets a cough.
Fevers are nature's way to rid the body of infection and are actually a sign of a healthy immune system. Fevers can be dangerous if they get too high or last too long. 100.4°F (38°C) is a fever above 103.1°F (39.5°C) is a high fever.
Remember, it's critical to keep breastfeeding and maintain hydration. Dehydration is the greatest danger of fevers, and it will reduce your milk supply. Any time you are sick, expect to see a temporary dip in your supply that should recover once you recover. If you are concerned about your milk supply, watch my video about how to increase your milk supply quickly.
Herbs can help you break your fever in two different ways. Depending on how you use them, herbs can cool you down or slightly warm you up, triggering perspiration and a subsequent lowering of body temperature.
Safe Herbs for Breastfeeding Moms with Coughs, Colds, and Flu
In brief, Some herbs are classified as febrifuges, meaning that they reduce fever. Febrifuges, such as Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Yarrow, and Elderberry, are considered cooling in action and are also nervine relaxants.
Other herbs are diaphoretic, meaning that they promote perspiration. They work with the body to raise the body temperature while simultaneously allowing the body to modulate it through the natural cooling mechanism of sweating.
Hot teas, infusions, and baths enhance the diaphoretic effect. These herbs, including Ginger, Elderberry, and Thyme, are also relaxing to the musculoskeletal system, so people with a cold, flu or respiratory infection often sleep better after taking them.
- Elderberry and Thyme are well- documented antiviral, antibacterial herbs that are gentle and safe for breastfeeding moms.
- Echinacea is very effective at the first sign of a cold or flu.
- Wild Cherry Bark is an excellent expectorant that helps calm most types of coughs and is also an effective decongestant.
- Thyme and Lavender are powerful decongestants, anti-spasmodic, and antiseptic herbs that are still gentle and safe botanicals for nursing moms and their babies.
My Top Herbal Remedies for Breastfeeding Moms and Their Children:
- Children's Immune Boost- Yarrow, Echinacea- Think herbal antibiotic and Febrifuges.
- Children's Respiratory Support- Elderberry, Thyme, Wild Cherry Bark- Think congestion, lungs, sinus, coughs, fevers.
- Children's Healing Herb Bath- Bath- steam-gargle: Lavender, Thyme, body aches, clear lung congestion and promotes sleep.
- Children's Tranquility: -Chamomile and Catnip- calming, pain-relieving, fever reducer.
- Earache Relief Oil- Mullein flowers and Garlic- Soothes earaches, pain, and infections.
- Immune Tea- Elderberry, Echinacea, Chamomile, and Peppermint.
Remember, all of these remedies are considered safe for you as a breastfeeding mom, even if your baby is a newborn, and they are recommended for children 6 months and older.
Sweet mama, I hope you feel better soon! Just remember healing and recovery is a process that takes longer than we want it to! Drink your teas, do your steam's, gargles, and baths. The tinctures are easy to take. You'll need help with the soup and the house. Trust that it will all be there for you when you recover.
Hugs and remember to let your love and your milk flow!