Tips for preventing flu infection during breastfeeding
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. The most common symptoms include high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, sneezing, and feeling tired.
Can you breastfeed your baby if you have the flu?
Yes, you can breastfeed your baby, even if you take certain antiviral medicines for flu-like symptoms.
According to the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women with influenza can and should continue breastfeeding.
The CDC says that one of the best things you can do to protect your baby from the flu is to breastfeed. Breast milk contains antibodies, special proteins that fight infection. The baby’s immune system is just developing, hence continuing breastfeeding can protect your baby against the infection that your body is fighting.
Although breastfeeding is protective, its effectiveness is limited. Parents are therefore encouraged to take steps not to expose their baby to the flu.
Take the following precautions to protect your baby from getting flu
Go to a doctor if you suspect the flu
Although antiviral drugs do not replace immunization, which is your first line of defense against this disease, medicines can relieve symptoms, help you feel better faster and reduce your risk of complications. By relieving and shortening your illness, you reduce the risk of transmission of the flu to your child.
Have yourself vaccinated
The annual influenza vaccine reflects the “best estimate” of the CDC of strains that will be spread that year – their predictions are sometimes accurate, but sometimes the mutated virus or different strains are more common, and the vaccine is not expected to be effective.
Nevertheless, the vaccine is still recommended because protection is better than none. For better protection, receive a flu shot as soon as it is available, usually at the end of September or the beginning of October.
Maintain good personal hygiene
Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water before feeding your baby. If you do not use water or soap, use a hand sanitizer based on alcohol.
Wear a mask when you care for a baby if you think you are sick.
Women who are breastfeeding and developing symptoms of the flu (including fever, cough or a sore throat) may take the below additional steps to prevent their baby from being exposed to the virus:
- Wear a mask and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Place a fabric blanket between you and your baby during feeding.
- Pump your breast milk and ask another person who is not sick to give it to your baby.
If you are worried about the risk of your baby or if you are too ill to breastfeed, then take your breast milk and have a non-sick person give your baby formula. Also, doctors advise flu shots during the flu season for babies and all people aged 6 months and older.
Tips to prevent flu infection
Flu prevention is the first step you must take before symptoms of the flu are seen in your body. You must prevent flu from affecting you by putting into place some tested preventions. It is known that prevention is better than cure and so we must always be armed with helpful flu prevention tips.
The following are a few tips which can help in preventing flu:
- Washing hands regularly may be one of the simplest and cheapest methods to prevent the flu virus
- Hands, which could be infected, should be kept away from your mouth, nose, ears and face else, because the virus may gain entry into the body through these places and infection can occur.
- Use a hand disinfectant when washing hands. After visiting the bathroom and washing the hands, use antiseptic and disinfect the hands.
- Get adequate rest and reduce the intake of tobacco and alcohol. Keep the natural resistant system of the body in working order so that an individual can prevent contracting the flu virus.
- Limit contact with large crowds, especially during the flu season.
- Acquire repeated flu vaccination. Recurrent flu shots will help in increasing the resistance to help prevent the virus for the season. Some hospitals and clinics offer flu shots to prevent flu, even before the flu season. The flu shot will assist the body in preventing flu. These vaccines help the body in building up antibodies against flu viruses and protect one from being infected. These vaccines contain dead viruses whereas the nasal sprays contain weak live viruses. Sometimes, after vaccination people are also infected with flu but the intensity of such infection would not be so high.
- Flu defense products such as probiotics are best to prevent flu. They help in preventing influenza, alleviating the symptoms of flu and in reducing the side effects produced by the flu vaccine in the shortest time duration.
- Healthy habits such as exercising, proper food and sleep also play an essential role in the prevention of flu as these habits help by improving the immune system.
Adapting the measure mentioned above can help you to prevent flu effectively.