Being a parent is full-time, around the clock, and every day of the year. Parenting doesn’t have days off for being sick from a cold or dealing with allergies. Coming down with a cold or dealing with allergies is no fun anytime. As a parent, you feel worried about passing your cold on to your baby in addition to trying to get well yourself. Continuing to breastfeed while you are sick is safe in most situations and can even help protect your baby from catching your cold.
Keep nursing your baby
Breast milk contains antibodies called immunoglobulins. When you are exposed to an illness, you begin to make antibodies in your milk specifically to fight off that particular type of germ. They do not fight against the good bacteria that are in the gut, only the harmful bacteria. The antibodies let the beneficial gut flora continue to do their job of crowding out harmful bacteria so they can not take up residence. In this way, immunoglobulins and gut bacteria work alongside each other to keep your baby well.
Leukocytes are white blood cells that are always on the lookout to fight viruses, bacteria, and other invaders and keep you healthy. At the beginning of breastfeeding, colostrum is very high in leukocytes to protect a newborn from bacteria and other pathogens. After the first couple weeks, the amount of leukocytes drops significantly from 13-70% to 0-2% of total cells.(1) When you or your baby are exposed to germs, your breast milk changes and the number of leukocytes increases significantly.
General care for colds & allergies
- Get plenty of rest - spend as much time as possible resting and go to bed when your baby goes to bed. Babies are often ok with spending the day in bed with you and nursing as much as they want. This allows you extra rest time and more milk protection for them.
- Stay hydrated - being sick is sometimes accompanied by a fever which is dehydrating. Staying hydrated helps your body fight against cold symptoms. Beware of sugary drinks and caffeine. They weaken your immune system, do not help with hydration, and can reduce your milk supply. Instead have water, low sugar coconut water (read the label), or try diluted Rehidrat.
- Eat nourishing foods - make every bite count and eat foods high in vitamins and minerals. One of the best foods is broth when you are sick.
- Be gentle on yourself - Ask for help or let the small stuff wait. Laundry and house cleaning will always be there and are not more important than taking care of yourself so you can get over your cold or allergies.
- Bodywork - You know the feeling of your glands being swollen when you have a sinus cold, sore throat, or even allergies. The lymph system is your body’s drainage system, filtering out pathogens and helping to keep you healthy. Although your body contains hundreds of lymph nodes, most are located in your neck, armpits, groin area, and behind your ears. If your spine is out of alignment, it can make it harder for lymphatic fluid to drain and for the lymph nodes to filter out the pathogens. Getting an adjustment by your chiropractor, osteopath, or another bodyworker can help restore balance in the body, encourage lymph flow and drain excess mucus.(3)
- Epsom salt bath - baths are relaxing and Epsom salts add extra magnesium which can help sooth the muscles (shower off after) and help you feel better. It can even increase white blood cell production to help you better fight infection. (2)
- Prenatal vitamins - You have extra demands on your body while making milk for your baby. It is recommended to continue your prenatal vitamins or switch to a postnatal vitamin to continue to meet your needs and the needs of your growing baby.(4)
- Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea are all helpful for increasing immunity and fighting off colds.
- Quercetin (Nettle extract) decreases the reaction your body has to seasonal allergies. It acts as a natural antihistamine without the drying-out effects.
- Nettles are a powerhouse herb that helps reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies, give a boost of vitamins, and support and increase milk supply.
- Eliminate foods that is hard on your gut. Your gut influences your immune system and if it is compromised, you are at greater risk for experiencing seasonal allergies.
- Milk thistle may help strengthen a person’s immune response. It could help the body fight off infection as well as reduce chronic inflammation produced by the immune system.
- Steam is helpful for clogged sinuses. You can take your baby in the shower or bathroom with you if their nose is stuffed up and benefit from the steam as well.
Cough and sore throat
- Gargle with saltwater. Always use mineral-rich salt instead of iodized table salt.
- Make a hot lemonade - boil water and add crushed garlic cloves, the juice of half to one lemon, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and honey to taste. After you finish drinking your tea, go ahead and eat the garlic for a bigger immunity boost. Garlic is antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal.(6)(7)
- Sipping on ginger tea can ease nausea. Ginger is used to help with milk flow and milk let down.
- Wet sock treatment has been used by many at the first sign of a cold or flu symptoms. You warm your feet in the bath before putting on ice-cold, thin wet cotton socks covered by thick wool or fleece socks and head to bed. The alternating heat and cold stimulate circulation and jump-starts the lymphatic system.
- Black seed is known for its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory functions which means it stimulates the immune function in order to better fight infection, but it also lowers inflammation, preventing damage to cells from when your body's army is defending at full force.
The best protection against colds and seasonal allergies are to prevent them. Diet changes that improve overall gut health strengthen your immune system. Finding ways to reduce stress protects you from getting worn down making you more susceptible to catching a cold. Some of the most effective ways to reduce unpleasant symptoms can be found right at home or at your local health food store. Be sure to check with your SACLC / IBCLC or doctor to decide what will help you feel better and be safe for you and your breastfed baby.
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Milkapalooza® is packed with superfoods like Moringa, that are not only milk-enriching but offer many benefits to mom's health. It also contains Nettle which acts as a natural anti-histamine and protects against seasonal allergies.
Liquid Gold® contains ingredients like Goat's Rue and Milk Thistle that have a long-standing reputation for supporting healthy breastmilk production. Milk Thistle has also been shown to support the immune system.
Pump Princess® contains a blend of organic ingredients designed to optimize breast milk production and support milk flow. Nigella Sativa (aka Black Seed) has been used for years for its medicinal properties which include immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant functions.