A few viruses are known to pass through breast milk. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is one of them. If the mother is HIV positive, she should not breastfeed. If she has HIV and wants to breastfeed, you can get breast milk for your baby from a milk bank. Sometimes babies can be born with a condition called galactosemia, in which they can’t tolerate breast milk. This is because their bodies can’t break down the sugar galactose.
Babies with classic galactosemia may have liver problems, malnutrition, or mental retardation. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, since both human and animal milk contain the sugar lactose that splits into galactose and glucose, babies with classic galactosemia must be fed a special diet that is free of lactose and galactose.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, mothers who have active, untreated TB (tuberculosis) or who are receiving any type of chemotherapy drugs should not breastfeed.
If your spouse is breastfeeding, she should not take illegal drugs. Some drugs, such as cocaine and PCP, can affect the baby and cause serious side effects. Other drugs, such as heroin and marijuana can cause irritability, poor sleeping patterns, tremors, and vomiting. Babies can become addicted to these drugs. If you smoke tobacco, it is best for the mother and the baby if she tries to quit as soon as possible. If she can’t quit, it is still better to breastfeed. She also should avoid drinking alcohol. An occasional drink is ok, but she should avoid breastfeeding for two hours after the drink.
Sometimes a baby may have a reaction to something the mother has eaten, but this doesn’t mean your baby is allergic to her milk. Usually, if the mother has eaten a food throughout pregnancy, the baby has already become used to the flavor of this food. If your spouse stops eating whatever is bothering the baby, the problem usually goes away on its own. Some women think that when they are sick, they should not breastfeed. But, most common illnesses, such as colds, flu, or diarrhea, can’t be passed through breast milk.
In fact, if your spouse is sick, her breast milk will have antibodies in it. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, these antibodies will help protect your baby from getting the same sickness.