Myth: If you breastfeed when you’re sick, you’ll give your baby the germs.
Fact: Unless you quarantine yourself from your baby, you’re going to share your germs, anyway. But when you breastfeed, you’ll also share the antibodies you’re making to fight off your illness, which in turn will provide him resistance. There’s a comfort factor for you, too—do you really want engorged breasts to compound your misery?
Along those same lines, if you get a breast infection, don’t stop nursing on that breast. Your baby won’t catch the infection, and you’ll be helping yourself by clearing your milk ducts. (Do check with your doctor to make sure that any antibiotics you’re given are safe for a breastfeeding baby.)
Myth: You must wean if you’re taking medication or undergoing surgery.
Fact: Most medications are safe during breastfeeding or have safe alternatives, but it’s always best to check with your doctor, even when taking over-the-counter medicines, says Siobhan M. Dolan, M.D., assistant medical director for the March of Dimes.
And what about the drugs often prescribed for postpartum depression? Paxil is a better choice than other antidepressants when you’re nursing, says Amy Spangler, M.N., I.B.C.L.C., a maternal child health consultant and chairwoman of the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee. However, your doctor will need to decide which medication is right for you.
Neither does receiving anesthesia have to mean an end to breastfeeding. “It depends on the particular anesthetic used and whether it is administered as a general or a local,” Spangler says. “Some anesthetics are metabolized quickly, so mothers can resume breastfeeding as soon as they are awake. Nevertheless, it’s important to let your doctor or anesthesiologist know you are breastfeeding so she can choose the most appropriate anesthetic.”
Myth: If your baby is fussy or spits up after breastfeeding, there’s something wrong with your milk.