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The common cold has gotten its name for a reason! This viral infection can hit anyone at any time and there is no exemption, even if you’re breastfeeding. Cold symptoms are often mild and respond quickly to over-the-counter medications. This may sound pretty simple but if you’re currently nursing, you can’t help but wonder, “Is cold medicine safe for breastfeeding?”
Common Colds and Breastfeeding
On average, every adult is having colds 2 to 3 times in a year. The typical symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, headache, and body pain. While most of these are minor symptoms, they can interfere with your normal daily activities and make you less productive in the course of the illness. Colds typically last for 7 to 10 days, but your condition usually improves faster if you effectively manage your symptoms.
If you’re a nursing mom, common colds can affect your ability to take care of your baby. You may also transmit the virus due to close contact while breastfeeding and droplets while you sneeze or cough. These are the reasons why many moms are extra worried when they catch a cold.
If you have a cold, it is important to manage your symptoms and take extra precautions so that you won’t spread the virus to your infant. But most importantly, you’ll need to continue breastfeeding to protect your baby. Your breast milk is full of antibodies and essential nutrients that your baby needs to help fight infections and boost his immunity.
This leads us to the next question, what type of cold medicine breastfeeding mothers can take to manage their symptoms?
What cold medicine can I take while breastfeeding?
Most cold medicines are compatible with breastfeeding. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics noted that many of the effects of these medications on breastfeeding are yet to be known. This is why experts suggest that taking cold medicine while breastfeeding must only be done when necessary. It’s also better to use a medicine that stays for the shortest time in the body and at the lowest possible dose.
Using the appropriate timing and dosage, there is a variety of safe cold medicine while breastfeeding. Here’s a guide on what cold medicine can you take while nursing your baby.
Antipyretics / Analgesics
These medications can be used for fever, headache, or body pain that are caused by colds. If you’re breastfeeding, it is generally safe to take the following analgesics/ antipyretics:
An analgesic that you may use with extra caution is Naproxen (Aleve). The AAP approved this analgesic for breastfeeding mothers. However, according to Dr. Hale’s “Medications and Mother’s Milk,” breastfeeding mothers should be extra careful in taking this medicine because it can stay longer in the body. Though its occasional use is found to produce no harsh effects, long-term use of this medicine may have effects on the baby’s cardiovascular, digestive and kidney health.
Aspirin is not advised for breastfeeding mothers because it was found to bring a potential risk of Reye’s syndrome on babies.
Very few studies are available on the effects of oral phenylephrine to breastfeeding. On the other hand, pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) was associated with a decrease in milk supply. Even if these two are generally safe for breastfeeding moms, they are the least options due to their potential effects on the mother’s milk supply.
These medicines can help relieve sneezing, itchiness, and watery eyes that come with colds. For breastfeeding mothers, the non-sedating antihistamines are often preferred because they are less likely to make you or your baby drowsy. However, since these medications are often long-acting, you’ll be advised to take it at bedtime, after nursing your baby.
In taking these medications, it’s best to double-check the ingredients because you might have bought the combination drugs instead. For example, Claritin-D and Allegra-D contain pseudoephedrine which can affect your milk supply.
Most cough medicines are compatible with breastfeeding. Generally, the following medications are safe to take for your cough while breastfeeding:
However, since many of them feature combination drug varieties, it’s better to take a look at their ingredients before use. For example, Benylin DM-D contains pseudoephedrine which can impact your milk supply. Cough medications containing menthol may also decrease your milk supply when taken in huge amounts.
Should you need to take a cough medication, it’s important to select a variety that will have the least effects on breastfeeding and your breast milk.
Medications for sore or itchy throat
Lozenges, sprays and gargles for sore throat relief are often fine to use while breastfeeding. Many of these are combination drugs so it’s best to refer to their packaging for a complete list of ingredients.
There are plenty of compatible cold medicine for breastfeeding moms. However, to play it safe cold medicine while breastfeeding is best used when extremely necessary. Combination drugs can be taken with extra care. You may also benefit from exploring the natural ways to relieve your cold symptoms before resolving them through medications.
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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or licensed medical professional before making any medical decisions.