You asked

My baby has diarrhea, should I stop breastfeeding?

The answer is no, definitely not.There is no benefit to you or your baby that can be gained from stopping breastfeeding. By continuing to breastfeed you will be giving your baby the best medicine possible to cure their diarrhea. Breastmilk is the only fluid your baby requires when they have diarrhea or vomiting and it is only in very rare cases that an additional oral solution would be prescribed. The use of oral solutions is quite common in formula fed babies as formula is not as hydrating or as easily digested. Diarrhea is diagnosed when a baby has more than 12 to 16 stools per day and they are watery in consistency.
Breastfeeding should be the first choice as long as your child can take anything orally. Breastmilk is very quickly and easily digested so even if your child vomits or has diarrhea after nursing they will still retain some of the valuable nutrients. Also, when your child has diarrhea or vomiting it is a good idea to offer more frequent and shorter feedings. This will limit the amount of milk taken in and also soothe and comfort your sick child. It is very rare that a breastfed child would become dehydrated so as long as your baby is nursing well and not showing any signs of dehydration then there is no need for oral rehydrating solutions.
If your baby is showing signs of dehydration, talk to your doctor. Signs of dehydration include:
  • less than 2 wet diapers in a 24 hour period
  • baby is more irritable than normal
  • lethargy
  • weak cry
  • dry mouth
  • no tears (in an older child)
  • skin that stays wrinkly looking when pinched (skin should spring back into place)
  • eyes that stay sunken
  • cool and clammy to the touch
  • fast breathing
  • fast heartbeat
  • fever.
If you have any concerns you should contact your G.P. but remember that dehydration is extremely rare in a breastfed baby and nursing will provide an immeasurable amount of comfort for your sick baby.

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