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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Is Cold Medicine Breastfeeding Safe?

Is Cold Medicine Breastfeeding Safe? #remedy #nursing #babyIt’s about the time of the year when we all start to stock up on tissues, cough drops, and other remedies for the common cold. Colds  are typically harmless, and many moms will forgo a trip to the doctor and grab an over-the-counter cold medication instead. But if a woman has a baby, she may wonder: is cold medicine breastfeeding safe?

Caffeine, alcohol, and yes, medications typically pass through breast milk. Depending on the substance, it might pass through in larger quantities than others. Since we can expect any medication to pass on to our babies through breast milk, it really is important to know if we can safely take a particular cold medicine and breastfeed our baby safely.

Is Cold Medicine Breastfeeding Safe?

Know the Ingredients

The first key step to take when deciding if a certain cold medicine is safe to take while breastfeeding is to look at the ingredients. It is not uncommon for one medication to have multiple active ingredients, and each one should be considered.

The Mayo Clinic offers some helpful suggestions regarding common ingredients in cold medicine and breastfeeding.

  • Antihistamines may contribute to fussiness in a baby and could potentially diminish milk supply due to their actions within the body.
  • Codeine and similar substances in certain cough medicines are metabolized by the body into morphine. Medications containing codeine should only be considered under the supervision of a physician who is supportive of breastfeeding.
  • Decongestants like ephedrine may cause side effects in newborns and premature babies especially, but the decongestant phenylephrine has not shown the same effects.

Pain relievers are often found in cold medicine, as well. Acetaminophen and aspirin will both pass into breast milk, though breastfeeding problems have not been reported from their use. Still, caution is always wise, especially when taking frequent doses.

Along with the Mayo Clinic’s article, two more helpful resources to consider are La Leche League’s FAQ on Medications and the LactMed databaseThe La Leche League article offers more helpful guidelines and links to articles. The LactMed database is a service of the National Institute of Health and is a searchable tool that allows both moms and physicians to search for a drug’s safety and appropriateness for the breastfeeding mother.

Consider Medicine-Free Alternatives

Another alternative to consider is medicine-free cold treatments. These offer relief for mom without any side effects to worry about. Best of all, these remedies are often very frugal, too!

There are a few options to consider, though as is the case of medications, always be sure that alternative treatments are safe for breastfeeding, too. The LactMed database offers information on many popular herbs, as well.

  • Herbal teas with lemon and honey can be soothing to a scratchy throat. Always ensure the herbs in your blend are safe for breastfeeding, though!
  • Rinsing your sinuses with a neti pot can take a moment of getting used to but is extremely soothing!
  • A humidifier or vaporizer can bring comfort to irritated throats and nasal passages.
  • Decongestant chest rubs can also effectively sooth coughs and runny noses. Formulas made for babies can be a good choice for breastfeeding moms since babies are held so closely while nursing. This brand is my favorite!
  • Essential oils can be useful, but always be sure that you use oils safe for breastfeeding and in proper dilutions.

With these tips, you should be on your way to a safe recovery from those pesky colds with no detriment to breastfeeding.

Is there a cold remedy you like to turn to while breastfeeding?

Kristen is a Christian, wife to her high school sweetheart, and mother to a growing brood of sweet little people. She spends her days keeping the home, homeschooling, making real food, gardening, blogging, and working from home as a Lilla Rose consultant, often with a little person on her lap wanting to nurse. You can find her at Smithspirations and on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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