Tag Archives: cold

Breastfeeding and the Common Cold

19 Dec

Ever since the cold weather started here in Chicago (and then stopped, and then started, and then stopped…), members of our Facebook group have been asking about safe remedies for the common cold for breastfeeding mothers. Here are some of the great ideas brought up by our members*:

Should I breastfeed my baby when I have a cold?

Yes, yes, and yes!!!!!! When you get sick, your body produces antibodies that get passed to your baby through your breastmilk. Those antibodies may help your baby avoid getting sick altogether, and will almost certainly mean a shorter, less severe illness for your breastfed baby. Nurse away, mama!

First and foremost:

Your health is correlated with how well you take care of yourself! Really. You need to take care of yourself. Turn off the TV, shut down Facebook, ignore the laundry, and GO TO BED!!! I recently complained to a friend that I had been struggling with a cold for a month and I felt like I was doing everything right – I was taking my supplements, drinking my herbal tea, avoiding sugar, and being absolutely lazy around the house. What was I missing? Sleep. In bed by 10:30pm, no exceptions.

Cold comfort:

  • Aromatherapy – Personally I can’t stand smelly candles, but a good essential oil diffused throughout my house makes me happy. Great essential oils for colds: lavender, peppermint, rosemary, lemon, frankincense
  • Humidifier – especially during our dry Chicago winters
  • A good long soak in the tub – hot herbal bath with lavender, chamomile, rosemary and calendula (if you don’t live near a health food store, you can buy bulk herbs at www.frontiercoop.com), hot towel or warmed rice sock on sinuses, hot shower, steamy water (with some essential oils) in a bowl and a towel draped over your head – inhale deeply for 5 min

General immune system care:

  • Avoid refined sugars (um, that means cookies, candy, milk chocolate, soda… just in case you needed a reminder)
  • Avoid dairy (you know you don’t have to drink milk to make milk, right?)
  • Eat your veggies (dark, leafy greens, etc.)
  • Stay hydrated and ditch the caffeine
  • Sleep

“Natural” remedies**:

  • Neti-pot – yup, it’s kinda gross and you have to use distilled or filtered water, but it’s a great way to clear out those nasal passages! Opera singers swear by it.
  • Herbs – check out this warning from Kellymom before drinking herbal teas or taking herbal supplements. After you’ve done that, echinacea stimulates the immune system and fenugreek is good for congestion.
  • Vitamins – vitamins C and D
  • Probiotics
  • Garlic (raw, not in a capsule) – chop it up and swallow it right down… yes, you’re going to smell, but garlic is antibacterial and it detoxifies the body.
  • Homeopathic remedies – generally considered safe for breastfeeding mothers. Find good practitioner or talk to your local health food store peeps.
  • Body work – chiropractic, massage therapy, cranial-sacral therapy, lymphatic drainage, acupuncture, acupressure, etc.


  • This is a great list of common medicines used to combat cold symptoms that are safe for breastfeeding moms.

More Resources:


Smart Medicine for Healthier Living (Zand, Spreen, and LaValle)

*Although this is common sense, make sure you talk with your health care provider if you have any questions about your health. We are not health care providers and we probably don’t know you personally, so use your best judgment in caring for your health. 

**More common sense: Just like your mama told you, all things in moderation. Do not overdo any treatment or remedy – even if it’s “natural.”  

Breastfeeding During the Holidays

21 Nov

Let’s be honest.  While winter can bring lots of joy and extra snuggles with our nurslings, the holidays can also be a difficult time in our breastfeeding journey.

You’ll definitely be busier than usual – shopping, cooking, cleaning, attending worship services and holiday gatherings.  You may have houseguests for several days — or even weeks.  You might be traveling and living in someone else’s (un-child-proofed) home.

Your children may be getting hugs and kisses from relatives they don’t really know or remember.  Your home may be decorated and furniture rearranged.  Nap schedules and bedtime routines will be out of sorts.

New toys will come into your home.  Some of these might be noisy and scary to your child.  Or they may be so exciting that your kids are bouncing off the walls!

You can confidently breastfeed through the grocery store or at the playground any day of the week, without a care in the world.  But the thought of nursing your child in front of your father-in-law or teenage nephews makes you break out in a cold sweat.

Here are some tips to get you through the holidays!

Courtesy Stephanie Dame Photography

If you have a young infant, babywearing can save your sanity!  The ability to discreetly breastfeed in a carrier is invaluable.  (Take some time to master it beforehand.)  If you have you baby snuggled up to your chest, usually even the closest family and friends will respect your personal space.  If the baby is securely tied to you, there’s less chance of him being subjected to the “pass the baby” game.  While I’m happy that so many people love my children, I do try to limit the amount of kisses on their face and hands during cold and flu season.

Most of our mothers and grandmothers did not breastfeed.  Without that experience, it’s very difficult for them to understand the dynamics of your breastfeeding relationship with your child.  Women of their generation were probably instructed to start feeding their babies cereal at six weeks old.  In cultures around the world, food is a symbol of love, so everyone will want to feed your child!

Whether it’s delaying the start of solids, limiting certain foods or avoiding allergens, I find that it’s best to be up-front about what you allow and what you don’t.  Ask your family to respect your decision.  Be firm and be watchful, because I can almost guarantee that someone will try to sneak something that’s not allowed, or they may simply forget that about the butter basting when they offer turkey to your dairy-free child.

An older baby or toddler may be so enamored with all the new people, places, experiences, and toys that they forget to nurse, not to mention the relatives that will be filling his/her little tummy with things other than your milk.  So unless you’re both ready to wean, be sure to schedule some nursing sessions so you and your nursling have a chance to relax and reconnect.  For the easily distracted child, seek out a quiet room where the two of you can escape.

Chances are that you’re parenting very differently than other members of your family or social circle.  Some people will question your methods just out of sheer curiosity.  They’ll be open to hearing about how and why you’ve made these choices, so please take the time to share your story and information.

Others may be confrontational about your parenting, defensive in their own methods and even belittle yours.  In these circumstances, it’s best to not engage.  Just respond with, “This works for our family,” and do your best to change the subject.  You and your parenting partner may even want a code word to be used when one of you needs support from the other, and it never hurts to have an exit strategy!

Most mothers take a “make it work” approach when it comes to clothes that accommodate breastfeeding.   The holidays are the perfect opportunity to buy a nice piece of nursingwear to add to your wardrobe.  In an outfit made for breastfeeding, you won’t have to worry about how much of you is on display.

Many herbs used during holiday feasts (particularly sage, thyme, oregano, parsley, anise and mints) can decrease your milk supply, especially if you’re eating the leftovers for several days!  Stress, dehydration, cold/flu, lack of sleep, travel, irregular nursing sessions can also take their toll on your supply.  So be sure to take care of yourself during this season!  It never hurts to have some Mother’s Milk tea or Vitanica’s Lactation Blend capsules on hand.  (Look for these at your local health food store.)

Almost everyone loves babies and children – especially during the holidays.  So use some that goodwill to make your life a little easier:

Many of our parenting partners/spouses have additional time off during the holidays.  Send Daddy out on an errand with the baby while you clean the house.

Invite your mother-in-law to go shopping.  It’s almost always easier with another adult along.

Plan a “Baking Day” with your kids and Grandma to get those holiday treats made all at once.  (Plan to order take-out for that night’s dinner, or better yet, start your crock pot early in the morning, so when the day’s baking is done, dinner is ready.)

Have a niece or nephew with a driver’s license?  Consider hiring them to run some errands for you.

Find a young teen to hire as your “Mother’s Helper” for an afternoon or two during their winter break.  You’ll be able to accomplish a lot of cooking, wrapping, cleaning with someone else entertaining your baby or toddler.

It’s not unusual for children to experience a major developmental milestone over the holidays.  In all the excitement, they can forget a habit or routine and unexpectedly start (or stop) doing something.  If possible, it’s probably best not to attempt a major transition during this chaotic time.  Give all of you a chance to make it through the holidays before tackling a new skill.

While the holidays are a magical time for our children, they’re also very susceptible to becoming overwhelmed and overly tired.  Be sure to check in often to get a read on their physical and emotional state.

Best wishes for a joyous and healthy holiday season!

Christine Sheets Nutile lives in the southwest suburbs of Chicago with her husband and their three children.  Much to her surprise, she’s been breastfeeding for over six years – through two pregnancies, hyperemesis and despite the numerous food allergies in her nurslings.  She’s a co-founder of the APChicagoSouth parenting group and offers private consultations and group workshops on babywearing.  Her family practices autodidacticism, also known as child-led learning, a form of home education.


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