What to do when the mother falls ill?

In most cases of maternal illness, continuing breastfeeding is far less stressful for mother and child than weaning and switching to formula milk!

An ill mother, however, needs additional help and support during her illness. It is only with very few diseases or in case the mother's general condition is very poor that breastfeeding has to be interrupted or ablactation is required.
Infectious diseases

Even with high temperatures, fever is no reason to ablactate. The cause, however, should be clarified. Fever is a reaction of the immune system towards an infection and does not have to be reduced by all means. Most bacteria and viruses are not transferred to the child through the breast milk, but by breathing in and food intake or through skin and mucous membrane contact. Apart from the unspecific immune substances contained in the breast milk, specific antibodies which the mother produces to fight the current infection are also transferred to the infant and protect him or her.

This is the reason why breastfeeding can be continued without interruption with any minor infection ("cold") or with almost all infections of the respiratory, urinary or gastrointestinal tracts. The same is true for mastitis and endometritis. There are only a few bacterial or viral infectious diseases where the acute stage of the disease carries the risk of transferring the infection through the breast milk and breastfeeding.

Bacterial infections

Bacterial infections represent an indication to take antibiotics, but not for ablactation! Taking antibiotics which are compatible with breastfeeding is possible in virtually all cases. Please visit www.velb.org for information about all other diseases (tuberculosis, borreliosis, listeriosis, etc.).

Viral infections

In case you suffer from influenza, continue breastfeeding without interruption. Your baby is protected by specific antibodies. Breastfeeding makes nurturing easier for the baby and the mother. Please visit www.velb.org for information about diseases like herpes, chicken pox, zoster, measles, rubella, mumps, hepatitis A/B/C, Aids, etc.

Chronic diseases

Please visit www.velb.org for information about diseases like diabetes, asthma, thyroid dysfunctions, psychoses, surgeries, etc.

Source: Training material of the Velb Basic Seminar on Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding Advice, 2009 (translated)

Composition of breast milk

Breastfeeding myths/old wives' tales

How to treat mastitis

If you have any questions, we will be happy to help you