Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Breastfeeding and Germs

on November 10, 2014

Summer/fall activities are winding up. Coats are coming out of closets. It’s getting dark at dinner time and we are spending more time indoors. I cannot imagine living without the change of seasons. Every fall (and spring) I love the changes in day length. But fall often seems to mean that someone in the family will catch a cold!

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I remember my oldest daughter’s first cold when she was about four months old. She couldn’t breathe or sleep or nurse. I was sick with the same cold and it was tiring to look after her when I needed extra sleep myself. I tried to blow her nose but she didn’t know how to do that. What could I do to help her?

I figured out that using a soft cloth to wipe her nose was gentler than tissues. I carried her and napped when she napped. I set up everything we needed and we dozed to daytime TV.  I knew she needed me to feed her, but it wasn’t comfortable for her to latch on. She’d come off for a big gasp of air, which scared me.

It took a few tries to realize that if I persisted and let her snuffle a lot at first, her nose would actually clear up. She could even breathe and sleep comfortably for a while after nursing.



What I didn’t realize at the time was that my body was helping her so that her cold would be less severe. Because we were usually together, our bodies had been exposed to the same germs.  I was fighting the same germ that was making her sick. Part of my body’s own immune response to the germ put specific helpful antibodies into my breastmilk. When she nursed, these antibodies helped her cold clear up faster.

Finding out that my body was sending specific live help was a good surprise about breastfeeding. Since then I’ve found that this antibody response applies to most contagious illnesses. Giving a boost to our babies’ immature immune systems is part of the natural design of breastfeeding.

By Cynthia


If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally






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