Food poisoning can be a scary prospect, especially for breastfeeding mothers. But with a little knowledge, you can keep yourself and your baby safe. It is a common illness that can affect anyone. If you are breastfeeding and experience food poisoning, it is important to know what to do to protect your baby.
You can continue breastfeeding if you have food poisoning. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even recommends that you continue breastfeeding if you have food poisoning.
The reason is that most germs that cause food poisoning are not passed from mother to baby through breast milk. If you are feeling ill, be sure to drink plenty of fluids (rehydration solutions like Pedialyte are best) so that you don’t get dehydrated. Dehydration can make you feel worse and can make it harder for your body to fight off any infection.
What is food poisoning?
Food poisoning is a general term for a food-borne illness that occurs after eating contaminated food. Bacteria, viruses, toxins, or other harmful substances may contaminate our food or water sources, infecting them during growing, processing, cooking, or storage.
Food poisoning can cause a range of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. In severe cases, it can even lead to hospitalization.
What can cause food poisoning?
Several different agents can cause food poisoning, and its severity can vary depending on the particular agent involved. Some of the most common causes of food poisoning include:
Bacteria are one of the most common causes of food poisoning and can be found in a wide variety of foods. These tiny organisms can contaminate food and cause food poisoning within a few hours of consumption. Common food poisoning bacteria include Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter.
Another typical source of foodborne illnesses is viruses, which you may find in several products. These microscopic organisms can taint the food and may lead to poisoning. Common viruses that cause food poisoning include Norovirus and Rotavirus.
Toxins are poisonous substances that can contaminate what we eat. Microorganisms present in food produce these toxins. Some common toxins that cause food poisoning include Staphylococcal enterotoxin and Bacillus cereus toxin, and you can find them in products like mushrooms and seafood.
Besides microbes, harmful viruses, and toxins, many other substances can cause poisoning. These include chemical contaminants, such as cleaning products or pesticides; metals, such as lead or mercury; and poisonous plants, such as hemlock and jimsonweed.
Improper handling is a major cause of food poisoning. This can include everything from not washing your hands before cooking to leaving food out for too long. It is important to follow proper food safety guidelines to help prevent food poisoning.
Can you breastfeed your baby with food poisoning?
Yes, it is safe to breastfeed the baby even with food poisoning. Breast milk is safe and nutritious for the baby, so don’t stop breastfeeding. Nursing mothers should drink plenty of fluids and get rest so that dehydration does not affect milk production.
It is also advisable to breastfeed your baby more often to prevent them from contracting the illness, as breast milk can help eliminate the toxins from the body.
Can food poisoning be passed through breast milk?
No, the baby cannot get food poisoning through breast milk. Most pathogens and toxins that cause food poisoning cannot transmit through that path. However, there is a chance that your baby may contract the illness from the same contaminated food that caused your food poisoning. So, it is important to take care when handling and preparing meals.
Are there any risks associated with food poisoning during breastfeeding?
When lactating mothers suffer from food poisoning, breastfeeding may be unpleasant for both the infant and the mom. Food poisoning generally resolves within 1 to 3 days without any treatment. However, there are some risks associated with food poisoning to the baby and the mom.
Risks to the breastfeeding mothers
Breastfeeding can be exhausting and dehydrating for the mom, but the symptoms of food poisoning usually subside within a day or two. There is a chance that the breast milk supply may decrease during this time, but it usually returns to normal once the mother feels better. So, don’t worry if your baby doesn’t seem to be getting as much milk during this time, and continue breastfeeding as the milk supply will eventually get back to normal.
Some women who have low immunity may experience more severe signs of food poisoning. In such cases, it is important to seek medical help immediately.
Risks to the baby
Babies are completely safe while breastfeeding from a mother who has food poisoning. As the infectious pathogens cannot pass through the breast milk, the babies who are exclusively breastfeeding are at very low risk of developing the illness.
However, there is a chance that the baby may experience dehydration if the mother cannot breastfeed frequently enough. So, to keep your baby nourished and hydrated, continue breastfeeding as often as possible.
If your baby catches the illness, don’t stop breastfeeding, and make sure you keep them hydrated. You can also see a doctor if the need arises.
What foods can upset a baby when breastfeeding?
Some breastfeeding moms may also find that their babies are sensitive to certain foods. So, if you notice that your baby is fussy or has diarrhea after eating certain foods, try replacing them and check the difference.
When nursing, certain foods may cause discomfort to the baby. These include:
Dairy products can cause diarrhea and gas in some babies. If you notice these signs in your baby after eating dairy, try eliminating them from your diet for a few days to see if the symptoms improve.
Caffeine can cause irritability, insomnia, and stomach upset in some babies. If you notice these symptoms in your baby after having caffeinated products, it is best to avoid them while breastfeeding.
Spicy food can cause heartburn, indigestion, and gas in some infants. If you notice these symptoms in your baby after eating spicy foods, try to avoid them or eat them in moderation while nursing.
Foods that are high in fiber or sugar can make the baby bloated and uncomfortable. These include beans, broccoli, cabbage, and onions. If you have any of these symptoms in your baby after feeding, make sure you avoid them, or your baby may refuse to nurse.
Acidic fruits can cause heartburn and indigestion in some babies. These include oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. If your baby experiences these symptoms after eating acidic fruits, try to avoid them or eat them in moderation.
What to do if you have food poisoning?
If you have food poisoning while breastfeeding, there are a few things you can do to help yourself and your baby feel better.
Drink plenty of fluids
It is important to increase fluid intake, especially if you are a nursing mother. This will help keep you hydrated and reduce the symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting. Try to drink fluids that contain electrolytes to replace the lost minerals.
Avoid drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages because they can make you even more dehydrated.
When you are unwell, you must give your body the rest it needs. It’s important to get plenty of rest and water, as dehydration can make it more difficult for your body to fight off the illness. Resting can help your body focus on fighting the infection and aid in recovery.
So, make sure you get plenty of sleep and take it easy until you feel better.
Eat light and bland foods
When you have food poisoning, your stomach is usually very upset. So, it is best to stick to light and bland meals until you feel better. Use BRAT diet foods like bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast to help settle your gut. Try to avoid spicy or fatty foods, as these can aggravate your stomach further.
If you have trouble keeping food down, try eating small meals at regular intervals. And, make sure you take plenty of fluids in between meals.
It is important not to take any medication without consulting a doctor. Many over-the-counter medications can interact with breastfeeding and may not be safe for the baby. Furthermore, some medicines may exacerbate food poisoning symptoms and make you feel worse.
So, if you are feeling unwell, it is best to consult a health care provider before taking any medication.
Consume fresh fruits and vegetable
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great way to boost your immune system and help you recover from food poisoning. They are also full of essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to heal. It also helps to eat probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt, as they can help to restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut.
So, make sure you include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet while you are recovering.
When you have food poisoning, it is important to maintain good hygiene to prevent the spread of infection. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the bathroom or handling raw food products. Also, make sure you clean all surfaces that come into contact with food. Also, keep your kitchen clean and sanitized.
It is also good to keep your baby’s environment clean and free of infection. Make sure you regularly disinfect all surfaces in their room and wash their clothes and linens in hot water.
When to consult a doctor?
Food poisoning usually lasts for a few days, and most people recover quickly without any consequences. However, there are a few cases where serious complications can occur. Therefore, it is important to see a medical professional if you experience any of the following symptoms of food poisoning:
- Severe stomach cramps
- Blood in your vomit or stool
- Diarrhea that lasts for more than three days
- A high fever (over 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Vomiting that lasts for more than 24 hours
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Unusual weakness or fatigue
If you are pregnant, lactating, have a compromised immune system, or are elderly, you are also at higher risk of food poisoning complications. In these cases, it is important to approach a doctor and seek medical attention immediately.
How to prevent food poisoning?
You cannot always avoid food poisoning, but there are a few things you can do to minimize risk. Here are a few tips:
Practice good hygiene
After using the toilet or handling food, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Make sure your drains are clear and that you clean all surfaces that come into contact with food. Sanitize your kitchen regularly and keep your counters and appliances clean.
Cook food properly
Make sure you cook meals properly and avoid eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs, or seafood. If you are unsure if food is cooked properly, use a thermometer to verify. Also, avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw food separate from cooked food.
Avoid high-risk foods
Certain types of food are more prone to infest illnesses, so it is best to avoid them. Avoid eating high-risk foods such as unpasteurized milk and dairy products, undercooked meat and poultry, raw eggs, and shellfish. Also, be careful when eating pre-cut fruits and vegetables, as harmful bacteria may contaminate them.
Store food properly
Make sure you store food properly and avoid leaving it out for long periods of time. Keep perishable foods in the fridge and cook or freeze them within two hours. Also, avoid packing too much food into your fridge as this can lead to bacterial growth.
Maintain your own fluid intake to stay hydrated, as it helps flush out the toxins from your system. Drink plenty of water, juice, and sports drinks. You can also have oral rehydration salts if you are feeling parched.
Food poisoning while breastfeeding is a scary prospect, but with a few precautions, you can protect yourself and your nursing child. This condition requires extra care, so avoid self-medicating and consult a healthcare professional if you experience any severe food poisoning symptoms. With proper treatment, you can get back to your usual self in no time.