How dangerous is a cold while breastfeeding?


Breastfeeding is a special phase for both the mother and the newborn. Breastfeeding also has many positive effects on the baby's health.
But what should you do if you get a cold while breastfeeding?
Whether or not to breastfeed depends heavily on the mother's condition.

  • In the case of mild colds, breastfeeding even helps the newborn to protect itself against the viruses. During the breastfeeding process, the child receives what is known as loan immunity from the mother.
  • It is better not to breastfeed if you have a real flu or even pneumonia. The risk to the child from transmission of the germ is very great here.

Can I breastfeed if I have a cold?

If you have a common cold, there is nothing to prevent the mother from continuing to breastfeed.
To reduce the risk of transmission to the infant, a face mask can be worn while breastfeeding. In addition, hands should be washed thoroughly before contact with the infant. A hand disinfectant from the pharmacy is also recommended. Regular hand disinfection can further reduce the risk of transmission.
With the breast milk, the mother transfers the so-called "nest protection" (loan immunity) to the child. These are the mother's antibodies against various pathogens, including colds, which also protect the child. Since the baby does not yet have a mature immune system of its own in the first few months of life, this nest protection is very important to protect against pathogens.

In the case of a real influenza flu, however, the mother should refrain from breastfeeding for the time being and consult a doctor. Signs of such flu are a high fever, severe muscle and limb pain, and a pronounced feeling of illness. Especially people who are not vaccinated should pay attention to such symptoms in the winter months. Influenza flu can be very dangerous for babies.

Find out all about the topic here: Breastfeeding with a cold.

Does the common cold affect the quantity and quality of breast milk?

A cold usually has no effect on the amount and quality of breast milk. During a cold, the mother should take care to drink enough and eat healthily. Often times there is a lack of appetite with a cold. Nevertheless, one should make sure to consume sufficient nutrients. Then breast milk should not be negatively affected.

What can I do to prevent my baby from getting infected?

Many nursing mothers are afraid of infecting their child with a cold. With a common cold, the chances of a breast-fed child becoming infected are not particularly high.
In order to additionally protect your infant from transmission, it is advisable to pay attention to a few simple things.

  • During the winter months, hands should be washed several times a day, especially when they come into contact with other people.
  • Hand disinfection with a disinfectant from the pharmacy also reduces the risk of transmission.
  • The breastfeeding mother can still wear a face mask while breastfeeding. This is particularly recommended if you have frequent coughing and sneezing.

Does a face mask make sense?

It can't hurt to wear a face mask if you have a cold or a flu-like infection while breastfeeding. The face mask is particularly recommended during breastfeeding, as there is a higher risk of transmission for the child due to the close contact with the mother. Cold viruses are mainly transmitted through coughing, sneezing and touching with the hands. Therefore, a face mask and regular hand disinfection are the best measures to protect the infant from the infection.

Causes of a cold

Simple colds are particularly common in the cold winter months. Various viruses (e.g. rota or adenoviruses) are the most common causes of the common cold, even when breastfeeding. Like the rest of the population, breastfeeding mothers can catch the common cold. Less commonly, colds are caused by bacteria.
Usually the mother gets infected through contact with friends or family members who have the cold.
The susceptibility to such viruses is particularly high in winter. There is a simple reason for this: the cold outside temperatures lead to a reduced blood flow to the nose. This makes it easier for pathogens to attach themselves and cause a cold.

Diagnosing the common cold

Mothers who suffer from cold symptoms while breastfeeding can see their general practitioner or gynecologist. Both can adequately diagnose and treat the disease. If you have a common cold, you don't need to do special tests to confirm the diagnosis. The examination of the mother and the typical symptoms are sufficient to make a diagnosis.
However, if there is a fever, severe cough and very pronounced symptoms, other diagnoses, such as real influenza, pneumonia or bronchitis, must also be clarified. A rapid test is available for diagnosing influenza flu, which also occurs more frequently in the winter months.

Concomitant symptoms

A simple cold usually only leads to very mild symptoms. The nose is runny, itchy and blocked. This can hinder nasal breathing and more people breathe through the mouth. A general feeling of illness and fatigue are also typical. Slightly increased temperatures can also occur. However, fever is atypical. A severe sore throat, cough, and severe exhaustion are also more likely to indicate another respiratory infection, such as bronchitis, flu, or tonsillitis.


Fever is generally not a typical symptom of the common cold. The term “common cold” is often used in the population for other infections of the upper respiratory tract. In contrast to a common cold, these are often accompanied by a fever. Slight temperature increases can also occur with a cold, but temperatures above 38.5 ° C are atypical. At very high temperatures, influenza flu should also be considered in the winter months, especially in non-vaccinated mothers.

Read more on the topic: Can I breastfeed if I have a fever?

Sinus infection

Sinus infections can also affect nursing mothers. Typical are pressing pain in the sinus area, throbbing pain in the forehead and headaches in general. Fever and fatigue are also characteristic symptoms.
With a sinus infection, the nursing mother is usually allowed to continue breastfeeding. Most sinus infections are viral. Antibiotic therapy may be necessary in the case of severe pain, very high fever and high levels of inflammation in the blood. In such a case, the attending physician should advise you on breastfeeding recommendations.


A cold while breastfeeding is usually treated symptomatically. Antibiotics are not necessary as common colds are viral infections. Antibiotics are not effective against these viruses. There are also no drugs that directly fight the cold virus, so therapy can only be symptomatic.

  • Breastfeeding mothers are particularly advised to pay attention to natural treatment options such as steam baths and inhalations, cold tea and adequate rest when they have a cold. A cold is a self-limiting illness that heals in about a week.
  • If the nose is blocked, simple saline solution from the pharmacy is particularly suitable. This solution is also offered as a nasal spray by various providers. It helps clear the airways and make breathing easier. Unlike many active ingredients, saline solution does not have any negative effects on the breastfed infant and is therefore particularly suitable for breastfeeding.
  • The nose and eyes are often very irritated during a cold. In this case, it is advisable to use a dexpanthenol eye and nose ointment.

As a nursing mother, one should refrain from taking medication without first consulting a doctor or pharmacist. This also applies to any antipyretic or pain reliever medication that you already have at home. Some of the active ingredients contained are not suitable for use during pregnancy. This applies in particular to the well-known cold juice WICK MediNait.


Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent from the group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs for short. Ibuprofen is recommended during colds and mild flu-like infections, as it not only alleviates the symptoms, but also combats the inflammatory reaction in the mucous membranes. Ibuprofen can also be used during breastfeeding. However, a maximum daily dose of 2.4 grams should never be exceeded. Ibuprofen is still unsuitable for long-term use as it can damage the kidneys and stomach lining.

Read more about the topic here: Ibuprofen while breastfeeding


Paracetamol is one of the recommended active ingredients for breastfeeding. There are no known negative effects on the breast-fed infant or mother. Paracetamol is well suited to relieve symptoms of colds and mild flu-like infections and can be taken in a dose of 500 to 1000 mg up to four times a day. The maximum daily dose of 4000 mg should not be exceeded. Paracetamol is also suitable for lowering fever during breastfeeding if you have a slight fever.

This article might also interest you: Medication during breastfeeding

Which home remedies can help?

There are several home remedies that have proven effective in fighting a cold, especially the classic cold tea. It doesn't matter which type of tea you use in the end. Herbal teas are especially recommended. Some pharmacists and doctors advise against mint tea during breastfeeding, as this tea inhibits milk production. However, other varieties, such as rose hips, are harmless, they help to “sweat out” the common cold and relieve symptoms such as sore throats and coughs. They also provide the body with sufficient fluids. This is especially important when breastfeeding.

At high temperatures, calf wraps are recommended to lower the temperature. At high temperatures above 38.5 ° C and persistent symptoms, however, you should consult a doctor promptly. Steam baths are great at loosening mucus and clearing the airways. This can be done several times a day. A light addition to the steam bath water is particularly beneficial. Fresh thyme, for example, is suitable.
Another important and very simple home remedy that promotes healing is fresh air. The room should be ventilated several times a day.


Homeopathic remedies, especially globules, may be used during breastfeeding. However, one should refrain from using solutions and tinctures, as these usually contain alcohol as a solvent.
Various homeopathic remedies are available for treating the common cold, depending on the severity of the symptoms. So-called complex homeopathics from the pharmacy, which contain various agents, are also suitable for treating a cold during pregnancy. Frequently used homeopathics for a cold include the remedies Alium Cepa, Arsenicum album or Gelsemium. At best, you can seek individual advice from an experienced pharmacist or homeopath regarding the remedies and potencies used.

Find out more about the topic here: Homeopathy for a cold


If you have a common cold while breastfeeding, the symptoms usually subside within a week. However, a longer or shorter duration is also possible individually. A longer course and worsening of symptoms, the addition of new complaints such as cough and sore throat, on the other hand, indicate an additional infection of the upper respiratory tract or flu. In this case you should see a doctor again.