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SURVIVING A COLD WHILE BREASTFEEDING
One minute you are fine. The next minute you are starting to feel that scratchy throat sensation. You sneeze, your nose starts to run, and then you are in the clutches of a full-blown cold.
Nobody likes being sick.
Breastfeeding moms have not only themselves to think about. They also worry about how their cold can affect their breastfeeding baby.
You may be asking Dr. Google what cold medicines are safe when you are breastfeeding? Can your baby catch your cold if he breastfeeds when you are sick? What kind of alternative and natural remedies can you use for your cold?
If you want answers to these questions then you have landed in the right spot!
I am going to answer all your questions about having a cold while breastfeeding.
What Are Safe Cold Medicines While Breastfeeding
No mama wants to do anything that is dangerous to her baby. But the symptoms that come with that crummy cold virus make you feel miserable. You want some relief!
There are two things to keep in mind with breastfeeding and safety of medications:
- Most medications do transfer into breast milk to some degree.
- Very few medications are completely contraindicated with breastfeeding.
For more information on medications and breastfeeding be sure to check the Infant Risk Center.
The MommyMeds app is a great resource too.
You can also call a lactation consultant. She will usually have a copy of Medications and Mother’s Milk, which has information about every drug and and risk while breastfeeding.
Drugs for body aches and headaches
Ibuprofen (Advil) and Acetominophen (Tylenol) are both ok to take when breastfeeding.
Ibuprofen is preferred for breastfeeding moms.
Drugs for Cough and Congestion
- Guaifenesin (Mucinex) is an expectorant. It is supposed to loosen the secretions (aka: crud) in your respiratory tract. It is not known to cause any harmful side effects in infants. However, it’s effectiveness is up for debate.
- Dextromethorphan (Delsym, Drugs with the name “Tussin” and other names) helps to decrease coughing. It does not transfer into breast milk in large amounts and is considered to be low risk.
- Non-sedating antihistamines like Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra are all considered to be low risk for breastfeeding babies. They also do not affect a mom’s milk supply.
- Phenylephrine is the medication in a lot of nasal sprays.
- How much of this medication appears in milk has not been reported, but there is a reason this drug is in a nasal spray. It would not be well absorbed if taken orally.
- If it did appear in breastmilk it is unlikely it would affect a baby negatively.
- Nasal sprays have been known to cause rebound congestion in people who use them. These may not be a good choice for mom herself.
What Cold Medicines To Avoid While Breastfeeding
There are some cold medications you should avoid when you are breastfeeding.
Don’t take anything with pseudoephedrine in it. This drug can decrease milk supply (Source).
Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine. It is effective but can cause drowsiness in both moms and babies. It is a common ingredient in cold medications.milk it is unlikely it would affect a baby negatively.
Nasal sprays have been known to cause rebound congestion in people who use them. These may not be a good choice for mom herself.
Natural Cold Remedies
I encourage you to try things that have no risk and can provide good relief.
- Neti-pots can help relieve congestion. Make sure you use distilled water or water that has been boiled and cooled. This will eliminate the risk from bacteria and other organisms that is in regular tap water (Source).
- Salt water rinses are very effective for a sore throat. Dissolve ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt in 8 oz of warm water and gargle with it. Yes, it’s gross, but it is usually the most effective thing you can do for a sore throat.
- Drink lots of warm things.
- Some people swear by Ecchinachea and Celestial Seasonings Ecchinachea Sleepytime tea is tasty. Warm water with lemon and honey is another drink that is tried and true for relieving cold symptoms.
- There is a reason that chicken soup is one of the oldest remedies for a cold.
- Keep some Zinc lozenges in your medicine cabinet.
- Research showed that 75 mg resulted in shorter duration. You will want to take them as soon as your symptoms start. Take them with food to help prevent stomach irritation.
Homeopathic remedies for cold symptoms:
- Allium Cepa
- Sulphur Natrum
- Nux Vomica
- Sulphur iodatum
Use a humidifier.
Essential oils can help support a healthy immune system and also can help with cold symptoms.
Can a Baby Catch a Cold From Breastfeeding?
Moms get sick. It is very rare for a mom to have to stop breastfeeding. Like, super rare.
In fact, a mom’s breastmilk changes when she gets sick and this helps protect her baby (Source). This also happens if a baby starts to get sick.
It’s one of those really amazing things about breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding mothers have reported their breast milk actually looks different when they or their baby are starting to get sick. That is because there is more of the anti-infective properties being made in the milk.
Keep breastfeeding if you have a cold! This will help protect your baby from getting sick also.
How to prevent a cold when you are breastfeeding
Of course, the best way to deal with a cold while breastfeeding is not to get sick at all.
Remember to wash your hands. It gets repeated all the time, but it truly is the best cold prevention technique that is out there.
Keep some hand sanitizer in your purse and diaper bag. A spray is quick and easy. This one is non-drying too.
Use those wipes in stores to wipe down the handle of the carts.
It’s always good to wash your hands and keep yourself healthy. But life happens. Sometimes moms get sick.
Until there is a cure for the common cold, there are lots of things you can do to help feel a little better during a cold.
And remember, breastfeeding is one of the most important things you can do to keep your baby healthy!
SURVIVING A COLD WHEN BREATFEEDING
Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC
Andrea has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years.
She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.