At some point in their life, unfortunately, your baby will get catch a cold. No matter how often you sanitize or how consistently you avoid taking your baby out, it's inevitable. Thankfully, a cold is a natural way for your baby's body to begin training their immune system. Breastfed babies are no different, so if you're breastfeeding your nasally congested baby you're probably asking yourself, "Can I breastfeed my baby if they have a stuffy nose?" As any breastfeeding mom will tell you it can get pretty hard to do, but don't let a healthy dose of snot get in your way.
Turns out, you should absolutely continue nursing when your baby has a stuffy nose. In fact, Kelly Mom suggested it's important to nurse frequently so that the baby is getting enough nutrition and antibodies — especially since congested babies may nurse for shorter periods of time due to the difficulty of breathing through a congested nose while nursing simultaneously. Kelly Mom also added that positioning the baby upright while nursing can help ease the backup of nasal fluids, and make the breastfeeding sessions go a little more smoothly.
Romper reached out to International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Michelle Kunschke from Simply Mother Nurture, who said via an email that there are a few strategies that can help ease breastfeeding a stuffed up baby. She says running a humidifier or sitting in a closed bathroom with a steamy shower can help ease the congestion.
"You can also instill some drops of breast milk in the baby's nostrils, which will help loosen mucous and produce a sneeze to help get rid of the mucous." says Kunschke. She also advises avoiding the forceful suctioning of the nostrils, because it can lead to swelling of the nasal passages and, as a result, worsen the problem at hand.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has highlighted the benefits breastfeeding has on a baby's immune system, too, saying:
"Human milk provides virtually all the protein, sugar, and fat your baby needs to be healthy, and it also contains many substances that benefit your baby’s immune system, including antibodies, immune factors, enzymes, and white blood cells. These substances protect your baby against a wide variety of diseases and infections not only while he is breastfeeding but in some cases long after he has weaned."
The AAP went on to say that not only can you breastfeed a baby when they have a cold, but you can continue to breastfeed when you have a cold, too. "If you develop a cold while breastfeeding, for example, you are likely to pass the cold germs on to your baby — but the antibodies your body produces to fight that cold also will be passed on through your milk. These antibodies will help your infant conquer the cold germs quickly and effectively and possibly avoid developing the cold altogether."
I remember when I nursed my daughter during a cold, and I can tell you that she would continuously have to latch off so she could breathe through her mouth. It was exhausting for her, and for me, but with the help of a humidifier and the gentle use of a nasal aspirator, it got a little easier. Luckily, cold and flu symptoms are temporary, and with a little bit of TLC your breastfeeding sessions should go back to smooth sailing in no time.