Recently, a very interesting question has been posed to me. Should the mother continue breastfeeding even if she has the flu? The answer to this question is not an easy one because there are pros and cons, and they should both be weighed when deciding whether to breastfeed or not during an influenza infection.
Breastfeeding Versus Formula During Vaccinations
In general, breastfeeding is much better both for the baby and the mother than bottle formula feeding. The reason for this is that, first of all, breast milk is very rich in IgA type antibodies. These general antibodies protect the baby from gastrointestinal infections. Without these antibodies, infections would be very common as the baby’s immune system is not fully developed and is thus vulnerable. A small proportion of these antibodies are also absorbed into the bloodstream of the baby and offer some protection from other infections, such as respiratory infections. But this kind of protection is very limited, so it is a good idea to temporarily switch the baby to bottle formula feeding if the mother is experiencing the flu or any other type of respiratory infection. There are simply not enough IgA antibodies from the breast milk in the baby’s blood to provide significant protection from the influenza virus.