Can I Breastfeed If I have Chicken Pox?
The answer is a definite YES. You may Google and shall see that all reputable websites will tell you that mothers who contract chicken pox can breastfeed as normal.
I had chicken pox when my second child was only 4-month-old. It was quite unfortunate to contract chicken pox as an adult, as we adults usually had it much severe than young children, to the extent that I could not quite recognize myself when looking into the mirror. Swollen eyes, watery blisters and oily face as you could hardly wash your face, worrying of crushing any of the blisters, which would leave you with a permanent scar. It was a nightmare and I’m glad that it did not last too long.
As I was tandem nursing my toddler and my 4-month-old at that time, I chose to consult Dr. Koe Swee Lee, who is a pediatrician cum lactation consultant. She assured me that it was perfectly OK to continue breastfeeding, as my children would probably have been exposed to the chicken pox virus even before I knew I contracted chicken pox. She prescribed me with some cream, paracetamol and anti-viral medication as I had an infection. Some of my blisters oozed out some yellow pus, which was a sign of infection and required treatment. With all these medications, I was worried to continue breastfeeding. But Dr. Koe had empowered me that it was really OK and that even with all these drugs and my condition, my breast milk would still be the best compared to any other formula milk in the market. I trusted her, as she herself is a great mother, and a wonderful doctor who cared so much for all her little patients and their parents. She would call to check on you if you were better and forever so patient and demure.
So I continued to breastfeed my babies. What I did was to wearing a nursing tank or nursing top, which allowed me to cover most part of my body especially my tummy area when I was nursing, hence my babies were not in contact with any of my blisters directly. Did my babies get chicken pox? Yes, they both did and my husband too! We were the pox family for that one-month taking turns having pox party. It was bad on my husband as you could imagine, as he had the blisters in his throat too. It was horrible that a patient man like him for once felt like hitting the wall.
Our babies? Thank God that it was mild on both of them, especially my 4-month-old. No fever and only a few tiny blisters. She wasn’t fussing at all and just nursed more regularly. It’s all about the goodness of breast milk and liquid gold as I always said.
Almost 2 months later, our neighbor contracted chicken pox too unfortunately, it was bad on her and her formula fed baby. The baby had high fever and didn’t want to eat nor drink. Her mom-in-law then suggested that formula milk was too “heaty” for a sick child and asked if I could spare the baby some of my expressed breast milk till he recovered. I gladly said yes.
As a result, my neighbor was converted from formula milk to mother’s milk that she was so determined to breastfeed her next baby, and… she did it! Her new and last baby was exclusively breastfed for 6 months until he started solids.
If you have chicken pox while breastfeeding, please continue to breastfeed as normal. Consult your trusted pediatrician who is supporting breastfeeding for advice if you are in doubt.
Oh yeah, I wished I heard of Neem Leaves (Daun Semambu in Malay or 印楝叶 in Chinese) when I had chicken pox. There are many testimonials from family members and friends that bathing with boiled neem leaves water will dry up the blisters very quickly and not leaving any mark. You can also fill up the boiled neem leaves water in a spray bottle and spray as and when you see some uncontrollable hands trying to scratch on the itchy body. Some let the patients sleep on neem leaves as well.
Where to get neem leaves? They say just ask any of your Indian neighbours or friends. They should have it planted within their house compound.
By Vivian Foo, founder of Fabulous Mom