Food Poisoning And Breastfeeding: Is It Safe For My Baby?
You have just had a lovely evening with your friends. The dinner was very delicious and luxurious. Suddenly at 2 a.m., pain and nausea hit you all at once. You are suffering from food poisoning, and to make it worse, your baby is awake and wants to feed, and you are worried whether breastfeeding is safe when you are suffering from food poisoning.
Since studies show us that whatever we eat goes to our babies through the breast milk, you have a reason to get worried about letting your baby have your breast milk while you are suffering from food poisoning.
Causes Of Food Poisoning
Food can get contaminated at any point when it is being produced, processed or cooked. Contamination of the food may occur as a result of:
- The food not being cooked properly.
- Storing the food in a way that is not proper. For example, some food needs to be chilled below certain temperatures otherwise they are likely to go bad.
- Keeping cooked food in unrefrigerated conditions for a long time.
- Poorly handling food by putting them on dirty surfaces or touching them with dirty hands.
Bacteria majorly cause contamination of food, but sometimes viruses and parasites may also play a role. In some cases, natural toxins or chemical toxins may also cause food poisoning. In rare cases, food poisoning can be caused by allergens triggering your body’s immune system to act abnormally.
Signs And Symptoms Of Food Poisoning
If you are suffering from food poisoning, you cannot fail to detect and know that you are suffering from food poisoning. Mild food poisoning may include the following symptoms.
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal cramps
- Mild fever
Sometimes food poisoning can be acute which may be life-threatening. The signs and symptoms include:
- High fever that goes beyond 101.5°F.
- Diarrhoea that persists for more than 3 days.
- Severe dehydration that may involve passing little or no urine.
You should see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms that are potentially life-threatening.
Is It Safe To Nurse?
Although you may feel uncomfortable nursing your baby when you are feeling miserable, it’s still okay to breastfeed your baby. It is very hard for the bacteria that caused the food poisoning to enter your breast milk as long as they are limited to your intestinal tract.
Therefore, you should do your best to keep the breastfeeding cycle as normal so that your baby can get nutrition and comfort. Stopping breastfeeding will also add more pain to you as a result of painful engorgement on your breasts.
How You Can Treat Food Poisoning
Treating food poisoning if you are a breastfeeding mother involves curing dehydration and helping yourself to feel better. Here are ways you can effectively treat food poisoning:
1. Increase The Amount Of Fluids You Take
Food poisoning is likely to lead to diarrhoea which will make you lose a lot of water, salt and sugar from your body. When you are dehydrated, your body’s milk production will decrease, and this will be bad news for your baby.
Increasing your fluid intake will help you stay hydrated by replacing the water lost through diarrhoea and vomiting. However, you should stay away from caffeine, alcohol, fizzy drinks and spicy food as these foods may make everything worse.
2. Taking Antibiotics
You should consult your doctor to give you appropriate antibiotics so that you can eliminate the symptoms and effects of food poisoning while you are breastfeeding. The antibiotics will kill the harmful bacteria and other microbes in your stomach that caused the food poisoning. This will speed up your recovery.
3. Hospitalisation And Intravenous Medication
If the food poisoning becomes chronic, then the only plausible option is to visit a hospital. You should be given intravenous fluids and medicine to boost your recovery and to help you keep your baby safe from any infection.
Preventing Food Poisoning
Every nursing mother would never wish to suffer from food poisoning. While most mothers may think that food poisoning comes from cafes, restaurants and fast food outlets, the truth is that you are just as likely to get ill from food that you have prepared in your own home.
The best way you can prevent yourself from suffering from food poisoning is by ensuring that your personal and food hygiene are of the highest standards. Here are tips to help you reduce the risks of suffering from food poisoning at home.
Wash Your Hands
This is the basic food poisoning preventive measure that you should always take. Before handling food, you should wash your hands thoroughly with hot water and soap. You might have touched the bin, gone to the toilet, blown your nose or touched your pet.
Use Clean Dishcloths
Dirty and damp dishcloths are the perfect place where germs can breed. When you use dirty or damp dishcloths on your utensils, you will be introducing the germs on your food, and before you know it, you will be rushing to the toilet and vomiting. You should, therefore, wash your dishcloths and tea towels regularly before using them.
Use Separate Chopping Boards And Knives
Having separate chopping boards for raw food and ready to eat food will go a long way in ensuring that food poisoning is kept at bay from your house. This is because raw food contains bacteria that may spread easily to the ready to eat food. These bacteria are always very harmful.
Cook Your Food Thoroughly
Thorough cooking of food ensures that all the bacteria that might have been in the food do not survive. You should cook your food until they are steaming hot.
Respect Use By Dates
Never eat food that is past its “use by date”. Sometimes you might be tempted to eat the food because it still smells and looks fresh even though it is past its expiry date.
Foods You Should Take When You Are Recovering From Food Poisoning
Most of the time, food poisoning will always go away within a few days without you having to seek any real treatment. However, there are ways you can help your body as it is recuperating from the effects of food poisoning. One of these ways is paying particular attention to your food choices.
According to the National Institute of Health, you should go for mild foods such as vegetables, fruit juices, soup and broth. This will help you stay dehydrated. You should avoid eating food that is high in fat, fibre and sugar.
It is also recommended that you can try BRAT diets- bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Foods like potatoes and cooked carrots are also good for you. The bottom line is that you should go for food that is gentle on your stomach. This is because at this time, your appetite will be down and your stomach will also need light foods that will not overload it before it gets back to shape.
Food poisoning can occur anytime you lower down your food hygiene guards. You might develop food poisoning at a wrong time when you are breastfeeding your little one, and this may leave you a worried mother. You may feel like it is game over for your baby as it will mean no breastfeeding.
However, this is not the case. Doctors recommend that you can still continue with breastfeeding your baby even if you are suffering from food poisoning since it is safe. This is because the bacteria that cause food poisoning usually stay in the intestinal tract and will not enter your breast milk. So, continuing with breastfeeding at such times poses no risk at all to your baby.