Signs of a breastfeeding mother having a high fever
- Feeling cold or shivering while others around don’t feel the same way.
- Feeling hot when touching the skin.
- Headache and muscle pain.
- Loss of appetite, having a bland taste in the mouth.
- Dehydration (urinating less, lack of tears, sunken eyes).
- Feeling tired, weak, lacking energy.
- Depression, difficulty concentrating.
Causes of high fever in breastfeeding mothers
According to health experts, there can be several main reasons why a breastfeeding mother may experience a high fever:
Fever due to postpartum mastitis or breast engorgement
Postpartum mastitis and breast engorgement are the most common causes of high fever in breastfeeding mothers. When the breast tissue becomes inflamed, it can result in symptoms such as blocked milk ducts, nipple engorgement, cracked or fissured nipples, blocked milk flow, and accompanying high fever above 38 degrees Celsius. If these symptoms are observed, it is crucial for family members to promptly take the mother to the hospital for early treatment. Delayed treatment can lead to severe complications such as tissue necrosis, bloodstream infection, and even death.
Fever due to postpartum infection
Postpartum infection is a condition where the mother’s genital tract, vagina, cervix, and uterus are invaded by bacteria. Symptoms of postpartum infection include swelling and inflammation of the perineal surgical site, accompanied by red, pus-filled discharge or foul-smelling fluid. Additionally, mothers may experience a high fever ranging from 38 to 38.5 degrees Celsius, which is difficult to reduce with common medications. At this point, family members should promptly take the mother to the nearest hospital for timely medical attention and treatment.
Fever caused by infection in the wound.
The reason for the mother’s fever while breastfeeding is primarily due to an infected surgical incision, specifically the perineal tear. Most postpartum wounds become infected due to bacteria from the body or from the surrounding environment entering the wound. When the mother’s wound becomes infected after childbirth, she will experience symptoms such as high fever, swelling at the incision site, the incision releasing blood or fluid, pus, and inflammation around the incision. Upon recognizing these symptoms, it is important to take the mother to the nearest healthcare facility for prompt treatment.
Fever caused by bloodstream infection.
The cause of bloodstream infection in postpartum women is often attributed to the use of non-sterile instruments during childbirth, incorrect dosages of antibiotics, and other factors. In such cases, bacteria can easily enter the bloodstream, leading to a condition known as bloodstream infection.
Common symptoms of bloodstream infection include high fever above 38 degrees Celsius and frequent chills throughout the day. In some cases, individuals may experience prolonged fever, low blood sugar, body weakness, and confusion. If prompt medical intervention is not provided, surgical procedures such as hysterectomy may be necessary, and in severe cases, it can even result in death.
Fever caused by postpartum gynecological disorders.
Some common postpartum gynecological disorders include uterine inflammation, vaginal inflammation, fallopian tube inflammation, and cervical tears. These conditions typically occur around 7-10 days after childbirth. The causes of these diseases are often attributed to poor hygiene during perineal care or the use of unsterilized delivery instruments. Symptoms of postpartum gynecological disorders may include poor appetite, insomnia, high fever, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, sometimes mixed with blood, lower abdominal pain, enlarged uterus, and uterine contractions.
If postpartum gynecological disorders are not promptly treated, the infection can spread and cause complications. Moreover, these diseases can pose difficulties for future pregnancies, such as miscarriage and preterm birth.
Fever caused by the common cold.
The common cold is a prevalent seasonal illness caused by viruses, specifically the Rhinovirus or Enterovirus strains. The virus can enter the human body through the eyes, nose, mouth, or through airborne droplets. When a mother contracts the common cold, she may experience symptoms such as high fever, chills, shivering, and headache. Although the common cold is a frequently encountered illness, it should not be taken lightly. If left untreated, it can lead to unforeseen complications, including acute ear infections, asthma, acute sinusitis, secondary infections, and more. Therefore, it is important for mothers to seek early treatment when affected by the common cold.
In addition to the common causes mentioned above, a mother experiencing fever while breastfeeding can also be attributed to:
- Venous thrombosis
- Endometritis (inflammation of the uterine lining)
- Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
Can a mother breastfeed while having a fever?
When experiencing a fever, a mother can STILL breastfeed.
Many mothers worry that if they have a fever, the viruses and pathogens causing the illness can be transmitted through breast milk and affect the baby. However, experts state that while viruses can enter the baby’s body through breast milk, the amount absorbed is not sufficient to cause illness. Furthermore, breastfeeding actually helps boost the baby’s immune system due to the antibodies present in breast milk. Therefore, the baby can continue to breastfeed normally.
Note: If the mother has a fever accompanied by symptoms such as a cold, sneezing, or a runny nose, it is advisable to wear a mask while breastfeeding and when in close contact with the baby. Additionally, the mother should practice proper hand hygiene by washing hands with soap before touching the baby to avoid any potential impact on the baby’s health.
Cases when a mother with a fever should not breastfeed
When a mother has a fever caused by severe viral or bacterial infection: Pathogens in these cases can enter breast milk and cause discomforting symptoms for the baby. Therefore, when a mother has a fever caused by a severe virus or bacterial infection, direct contact with the baby and breastfeeding should be avoided to prevent the transmission of illness.
When a mother has a fever due to food poisoning: While fever caused by food poisoning viruses cannot be directly transmitted through breast milk, harmful toxins can still seep into the milk. If the baby consumes a significant amount of this milk, it can lead to toxicity. Therefore, if a mother has a fever due to food poisoning, she should refrain from breastfeeding.
When a mother has a fever accompanied by diarrhea: The reason a mother should not breastfeed when having a fever accompanied by diarrhea is that the breakdown products of the mammary glands can disrupt the bacterial balance in the baby’s gut. Breastfeeding in such cases can result in gastrointestinal infection, indigestion, and diarrhea for the baby.
When a mother has an excessively high fever: If a mother has a fever of 39.5°C (103.1°F) or higher, she should not breastfeed. Breastfeeding in such a condition can exacerbate discomfort for the mother and further increase the fever.
The safest ways to reduce fever for breastfeeding mothers
In this section, Monkey will summarize six safe and easy-to-implement methods for breastfeeding mothers to reduce fever at home. Mothers can refer to and apply these methods immediately to ensure the safest and most effective results for both the mother and the baby.
When experiencing a fever, mothers should use saline solution to gargle their mouth 3-4 times a day to eliminate bacteria and reduce throat soreness. Additionally, mothers should ensure clean hand hygiene by washing hands with soap before interacting with the baby.
Hydration and electrolyte supplementation
During a high fever, the body becomes weakened and loses a significant amount of fluids. Therefore, mothers need to increase their fluid intake. Drinking an adequate amount of water during a fever helps the cells in the body function properly, eliminates toxins and bacteria, and promotes quick recovery. Mothers can aim to drink 2-2.5 liters or more of boiled water daily.
In addition to plain water, mothers can also consume fruit juices to replenish energy and boost immunity, such as lemon water, orange juice, coconut water, pennywort water, black bean water, and others. Moreover, for mothers experiencing prolonged high fever that is difficult to bring down, it is recommended to supplement with oral rehydration solution (ORS). When consuming ORS, mothers should follow the instructions on the packaging to ensure its effectiveness and their own well-being.
Note: When drinking water during a fever, mothers should take small sips and drink frequently. It is not advisable to consume a large amount at once to avoid shock. Additionally, when experiencing a fever, mothers should avoid alcoholic beverages, caffeinated drinks, and carbonated beverages.
Adequate nutrient intake
When experiencing a fever, many mothers may feel a loss of appetite or a bland taste in their mouth. However, it is important for mothers to make an effort to eat a sufficient amount of food to regain their strength quickly. To improve health promptly, mothers need to consume more food and incorporate a variety of nutrients into their diet, such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, vegetables, and fruits.
Particularly, foods rich in vitamin C are highly recommended, including dark green vegetables, red peppers, citrus fruits, papaya, mango, berries, and strawberries. By increasing the intake of vitamin C-rich foods, mothers can boost their immune function and expedite the recovery from the fever.
Consuming honey with fresh lemon
Mixing honey with fresh lemon juice creates a vitamin C-rich beverage that is highly effective in reducing fever. Mothers can prepare this drink by combining the following ingredients: 1 cup of warm water, 3 teaspoons of honey, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. For optimal fever-reducing effects, it is recommended to drink three cups of this mixture daily and continue for one week.
Soup with scallions is a simple and effective dish for reducing fever in mothers. Tia to and scallions have warming and spicy properties, making them suitable for relieving cold symptoms and reducing fever. It is recommended for mothers to eat 2-3 bowls of Tia to and scallion soup per day, cooked with ingredients such as pork, chicken, or beef. Consuming the soup while it is still hot helps induce sweating, eliminating toxins from the body and effectively reducing body temperature.
Mothers who are breastfeeding can use medication to reduce fever, but this is only recommended if the mother’s temperature is above 38 degrees Celsius. When using medication to lower the fever, a portion of the medication enters the breast milk and directly affects the baby. However, it’s important to note that the liver and kidney functions of newborns are not fully developed, and their ability to eliminate toxins is only about 10% of that of adults.
Therefore, in cases where breastfeeding mothers have only a mild fever, it is best not to use medication. If it becomes necessary to use medication, mothers should consult a doctor for advice.
When should a mother see a doctor if she has a fever?
Mothers should seek medical attention when the following signs appear in their body:
- High fever of 38.5 degrees Celsius or above that cannot be reduced with common fever-reducing medications.
- Prolonged fever lasting for 48 to 72 hours.
- Fever accompanied by certain symptoms such as nausea, excessive uterine bleeding, diarrhea, low blood pressure, seizures, chest pain, etc.
- Development of a rash or the appearance of bruising.
3+ Effective Postpartum Fever Prevention Methods
To effectively prevent fever while breastfeeding, mothers should follow these guidelines:
Take careful care of the wound and perineal area after childbirth.
After giving birth, whether through cesarean section or vaginal delivery, mothers should pay close attention to the care of the surgical incision and perineal area. Proper and meticulous care helps prevent postpartum complications such as infection in the incision or perineal area. During the first week, mothers should clean the incision using a 10% Povidone iodine or Betadine solution to promote quick healing and prevent infection. In the second week, mothers can take warm showers or bathe for no more than 10 minutes. It is important to avoid soaking in a bathtub as it may delay the healing of the incision and increase the risk of infection.
After bathing, mothers should gently pat dry the incision with sterile gauze and leave it uncovered, without applying adhesive bandages. It is crucial not to apply any antibiotic creams or traditional herbal remedies to the incision. When changing the dressing, mothers must ensure they have clean hands and sterile instruments before coming into contact with the incision site. If there are signs of fever or any abnormal symptoms such as redness, pus, bleeding, foul odor, etc., it is necessary to seek immediate medical attention.
Abstain from sexual intercourse during the postpartum period
It is recommended to abstain from sexual intercourse during the first month of the postpartum period because the mother’s genital area is still sensitive. After the process of giving birth, the vaginal area may have undergone some trauma that has not yet fully healed. Engaging in sexual activity too soon can cause further damage and increase the risk of serious infections.
Regularly exercise to improve health
After giving birth, it is important for mothers not to just stay in bed but engage in physical activities to enhance their health. This can include activities such as walking, practicing yoga, or meditation. However, it is crucial for mothers to exercise moderately to avoid straining the perineal stitches. Accidentally tearing the stitches can create an opportunity for bacteria to enter and cause postpartum infections. Exercising after childbirth helps promote a faster recovery and reduces the risk of postpartum complications.
Through the information provided in the article, it is hoped that mothers have found the answer to the question, “Can I breastfeed my baby if I have a fever?” It is recommended to breastfeed the baby when the mother is truly comfortable and at ease, as breastfeeding is an important source of nutrition for the comprehensive development of the child. At the same time, mothers should also be aware of situations where breastfeeding should be avoided to prevent any negative impact on the baby’s health.
Johnny Jacks was born in 1985 in Texas, USA. He is the founder of Good Health Plan and is passionate about helping people improve their health and physical well-being. With over a decade of experience working in the healthcare industry, he currently works at Goodheathplan.com – a blog that shares knowledge on beauty and health.