Breastfeeding can be hard work, especially at the start when it’s all new and you’re establishing a routine. While you’re so focused on your little one, it’s easy to overlook your needs both mentally and physically. Doing this consistently can leave you exhausted and prone to falling ill.

In this post, we share some breastfeeding tips to help keep you well. But in the event you are unwell, we’ll also share some thoughts about continuing breastfeeding while sick.

Nurture yourself

Address the fundamentals 

You’ve probably heard the saying ‘a happy mummy = happy baby’. To keep yourself in great shape, you need to address the fundamentals:

  • Sleep whenever you can – see our article for some great tips.
  • If you can’t sleep, rest. A 10-minute ‘feet-up’ break combined with breathing slowly is wonderfully restorative.
  • Breastfeeding diet – eat 3 meals a day with snacks in between but all as healthy as possible and rich in calcium, iron and protein.
  • Hydrate – easy to forget but vital to help you with milk production. 
  • Exercise – a daily short walk or a half an hour of stretching does wonders. 
  • Take help when it’s offered – don’t feel like you need to be a ‘hero’ and do it all yourself.
  • Partner support – ask for their help. He/she may feel like they are floundering in ways to help you but the simple act of asking can bring about miracles!

Going deeper

Of course sleep, exercise and a good breastfeeding diet are all paramount. But so is your mental health. Looking after a baby can be all-consuming and many mothers feel they quickly lose who they are.

To regain some equilibrium, try some of the following:

Your daily ‘something small’

  • indulge in a hot bath soak or shower while your partner/relative/friend cares for baby
  • read a chapter of a book or flip through your favourite magazine
  • make a cuppa and catch up on social media for half an hour
  • meditate
  • take up a craft activity that can be done in short bursts – i.e. scrapbooking, painting or needlework
  • go for a walk varying your path each day for something new
  • sit in the garden and get some Vitamin D
  • try a jigsaw, crossword, logic or brainteaser puzzle
  • dream up your next big holiday sojourn and plan a bit each day

Your weekly or monthly ‘something big’

Many of these activities will require someone else to look after your baby which might be difficult when they are very young and breastfeeding frequently.

However, keep them on your ‘dream list’ as the day will come when you can take a break for a few hours at a time.

  • grab your bestie and shop for a few hours
  • visit your favourite café and indulge in a coffee and cake
  • get a haircut, facial or manicure
  • if you have a relative who can care for baby, go out for dinner with your partner
  • watch a movie (at home if your baby is very young but have someone else look after them)
  • go for a drive alone, no destination necessary
  • do nothing at all
  • do a short course either in person or online
  • treat yourself to a new something – clothes, a book, a new game on your phone etc.

Breastfeeding while sick

No matter how well you look after yourself, it is inevitable you will fall sick at some time.

A cold or bout of gastro are hard to avoid during ‘sick season’. If you are unwell, you can continue breastfeeding while sick. But it’s extra important you have support at this time as the biggest thing you’ll need is rest so you can recover quickly.

Ask your partner to take a sick day to look after you.  Many companies allow family or carer’s leave to enable them to look after a sick relative or spouse.  

As for continuing breastfeeding, you can and should. Your body will produce antibodies to protect your little one from the very illness you have (such as a cold) so often they will escape the sniffles too. 

You may find your letdown reflex is affected when breastfeeding while sick. Baby may get a little frustrated at this but getting in some extra feeds can combat this. If you find your supply is low, you can try natural alternatives such as fenugreek capsules. 

If you need to take medication for your illness or are worried in any way, speak to your local pharmacist, GP or nurse. Professional advice is always best and also very reassuring.


As you can see, there are lots of things you can do to keep yourself well and nurture your breastfeeding experience. It’s such a vital part of being a mother and helping you stay connected to your precious little one.

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We hope you find our articles helpful. As always, we provide this information for your reference but keep in mind it is not professional medical advice. We encourage you to speak to your GP or specialist if you have concerns about you or your baby’s health.