Breastfeeding and the Flu
Contrary to popular belief, even if you are suffering from influenza symptoms, it is still safe for you to breastfeed your child. This is because the influenza virus cannot be passed on through breast milk but rather through person to person contact, coughing and sneezing. Additionally, it is also safe for breastfeeding mothers to get a flu jab or nasal spray flu vaccine as these do not present any harm to infants but actually provides a health benefit.
However, there are some necessary steps to take if you are actively displaying influenza symptoms as babies are at a higher risk than others of catching the flu and have resulting health problems due to the minimum age for the flu shot being 6 months. If you have any flu symptoms and you are breastfeeding, keep your baby safe by:
- Washing your hands with warm soapy water before touching your baby.
- Pumping your milk and having someone else bottle-feed your baby.
- Keep household surfaces clean
- Keep a dry, clean cloth material blanket between you and your baby when you hold them.
- Avoiding the sharing of utensils, glasses, towels, bed sheets and blankets until it’s been 5 days since your last symptom.
- Avoid sneezing or coughing around your baby and wear a face mask if you can.
From the 1st-7th of August is the 28th annual World Breastfeeding Week since the event began in 1990, designed to commemorate the Innocenti Declaration by WHO, UNICEF, and other institutions for the protection, advocating and encouragement of breastfeeding. The annual World Breastfeeding Week campaign is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action who work closely with other similar organisations such as UNICEF and WHO among many others.
As breastfeeding is the most nutritious and beneficial way to support the growth of babies, the importance of supporting breastfeeding is crucial. Breastfeeding prevents hunger and malnutrition as well as food security for babies, even in times of crisis and poverty. The UK has one of the lowest rates for breastfeeding in the world, with only one in 200 (0.5%) women still breastfeeding, to any degree, a year after giving birth. In comparison to Germany’s 23%, Brazil’s 56% and Senegal’s 99%, this is shockingly low. A further 81% of mothers have tried breastfeeding at some point but only 34% continued to breastfeed at 6 months.
Designed to raise awareness of the association between nutrition, security, poverty reduction and breastfeeding, breastfeeding week has been celebrated through a variety of fundraising events such as the upcoming special edition of Channel 4’s Dispatches: Breastfeeding Uncovered. This is to share the insights on breastfeeding in the UK and features Unicef’s programme director Sue Ashmore.
At Flucamp, we work with a variety of viruses much like influenza and the common cold, in the hope that one day they’ll be eradicated altogether. To find out about what we do and how you can help, have a look at Our Trials or contact us.