Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Breastfeeding in Cold and Flu Season

on November 2, 2015

As winter approaches, and “flu season” (October – May) hits, encouragements to get a flu vaccination are everywhere.  Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or mothering small children may be especially concerned about what they should do.  It is encouraging to remember that breastfeeding offers your baby protection from all respiratory infections in both specific (antibodies) and non-specific ways.  The decision to vaccinate or not should be made in consultation with your health care practitioner.
You and your family can reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the flu by following these steps:
· Wash hands frequently (or use hand sanitizer in the absence of soap and water)

· Do not share drinking glasses or eating utensils

· Be conscientious about not touching your face, nose and mouth when out in the community.

· If you cough or sneeze, use a tissue or handkerchief.  Don’t cough or sneeze into your bent elbow, as some health experts recommend for other people who have the flu, because that puts the virus too close to where you hold a breastfeeding baby’s head.

· If someone in your family or workplace is ill, please avoid attending events (such as LLLC meetings) where you might be around pregnant women.  Remember that you can spread the illness before you have any symptoms.

The influenza virus vaccine is created to prevent the flu viruses that are anticipated to be prevalent each flu season.  It comes in two forms:  one that is inactivated and given as an injection and the other which is a live but less active vaccination that is given as a nasal spray.  Regarding the inactive injection:  “There are no reported side effects or published contraindications for using influenza virus vaccine during lactation.”  (Hale 2008).  Hale also explains that the nasal spray form of the vaccination uses a heat unstable form of the virus. Virus that escape the nasal passage are unstable and die quickly.  It is not known if the nasal spray form of the virus reaches the breast milk but it is felt to be highly unlikely that it could survive the temperature in the blood plasma or breast.

If you want more information about vaccinations, talk to your health care practitioner or check the Public Health Agency of Canada:  Canadian Immunization Guide.

If you have a breastfeeding questions or concerns please contact a La Leche League Leader. We are available through meetings, by phone and by e-mail.


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


If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at  so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!




Your Comments are Welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: