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Breastfeeding While Sick: What Medicine Can I Take

Breastfeeding While Sick: What Medicine Can I Take?

Breastfeeding while sick, what medicine can I take?

If you’re wondering whether your medicine is safe when you are breastfeeding your baby, this article will help you. I will discuss whether or not it is safe to breastfeed your baby while sick or down with COVID and the safe medicines for breastfeeding moms and their babies.

Breastfeeding while sick is a common dilemma for mothers who want to breastfeed. Medicine has always been a double-edged sword for breastfeeding mothers.

Many drugs, like decongestants, antibacterial or antiviral pills, save lives but might interfere with the benefits of breastfeeding.

With the right medicine and treatment, you can continue your breastfeeding journey without having to stop. Just remember that we are on this journey with you from day one! Winks*

Is It Safe To Breastfeed While Sick?

Yes, in most cases, you can safely continue to breastfeed your infant while you are down with an illness. Breast milk provides the perfect nutrients and antibodies your baby needs to boost his immune system. Also, it prevents him from falling ill or developing health problems.

But if you feel too weak to breastfeed, you can express breast milk into a bottle or clean container so that your spouse or caregiver can help bottle-feed your baby. You can take a break from breastfeeding and opt-out of baby formula until you are strong again.

Whether or not you will breastfeed also depends on the nature of your sickness. That is why it is essential to see your doctor and figure out the cause of your symptoms. Also, to prescribe drugs and guide you as a lactating mother. Especially if you are sick and breastfeeding a newborn.

Even though it is safe to breastfeed while ill, there are a few sicknesses or diseases that could cause your doctors to restrict you from temporarily or permanently giving your child breast milk.

The (CDC) – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises mothers not to breastfeed or express milk if they are diagnosed with

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus type I or type II (HTLV – 1/2)
  • Ebola virus
  • Using illicit drugs like cocaine or PCP (phencyclidine)

According to CDC, there are other illnesses such as active and untreated chickenpox or tuberculosis that might not require breastfeeding.

Still, mothers can give expressed milk, while other diagnoses like herpes simplex virus (HSV), untreated brucellosis, etc., may require moms to temporarily take a break from breastfeeding or expressing breast milk to their babies.

Breastfeeding While Sick: Can Sickness Pass-Through Breast Milk?

Sicknesses like cold, flu and stomach viruses don’t pass through breast milk. Your infant may stay protected by gaining antibodies.

Breastfeeding provides your baby with invaluable immunoglobulins and antibodies against harmful germs, flu, and bacteria giving your baby a double dose of protection against illness and infection.

However, certain more severe diseases like HIV, brucellosis, herpes simplex virus (HSV), and HTLV-1 pass through breast milk.

Therefore, you should not fail to talk to your physician if you are diagnosed with any of these diseases.

When you notice any disturbing symptoms, make sure to visit a hospital for a checkup and diagnosis to avoid putting you and your baby at great risk.

Based on the diagnosis, your doctor will determine whether or not you will continue breastfeeding your infant. Also, your physician may also run a test on your baby to ensure his safety, depending on the severity of your sickness.

Is It Safe to Breastfeed While Sick with Flu?

No, it is not. Your baby may contract cold and flu if you are infected with the illness. And so, when you are down with flu or cold, ensure you protect your baby from contracting the disease. Kids Health advises that you do the following if you are breastfeeding while sick with flu.

  • Frequently wash your hands.
  • Sneeze or cough into a clean tissue and then dispose of it.
  • Avoid keeping close facial contact with your little one.
  • Wear a nose mask when breastfeeding to protect your baby’s face while sneezing, breathing, or coughing.

Alternatively, you can use breast pumps like Ameda Mya, Haakaa, Elvie or Willow to pump breastmilk into a feeding bottle, ensuring that you carry out several hygiene practices. Then, give the bottle to a healthy person close by to feed your little one.

Can Sickness or Illness Affect Milk supply?

As a lactating or nursing mother, being sick can affect your breast milk supply, especially if you no longer nurse or pump milk as much as you usually because of your ill health.

Contracting a bug like a cold, flu or stomach virus will not reduce your milk supply. What actually can decrease breast milk are their symptoms such as loss of appetite, fatigue, body pains, vomiting or diarrhea.

The high level of cortisol which leads to stress while sick significantly contributes to a decrease in breast milk supply.

Ask for assistance at home from your spouse, relatives or caregiver, when you are ill to reduce stress and allow you to make enough milk to pump for or nurse your infant.

If you express concerns about not being able to supply your infant with enough milk, know that a decrease in your breast milk supply will not last for long. As soon as you fully recover from your ailment, its production level will return to normal.

While you are ill, continue learning and practicing different means to increase and maintain your breast milk supply. These activities may involve pumping and breastfeeding your baby often, eating nutritious foods and fruits, and staying hydrated as often as you can.

If you feel too weak to breastfeed or pump milk for your baby, formula-feeding can be the best bet at the moment till you feel better.

What Can I Take for a Cold While Breastfeeding?

What can I take for a cold while breastfeeding? Many mothers often ask this question. While there is no cure for the common cold, medicines are effective and ease off the symptoms.

Apart from medications, there are other options to feel better, especially if you don’t like taking medicines for cold while breastfeeding.

You can try out some natural or home remedies to alleviate the symptoms.

  • Drink a lot of fluids, like fresh juice, warm broth, honey or lemon water, or decaffeinated tea, to keep you hydrated, help alleviate congestion naturally, and fight cold.
  • Take chicken soup or pepper soup also to relieve congestion and mucus buildup. The hotness from the soup can ease a scratchy, sore throat.
  • Mix 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons of salt into 8 ounces of warm water and gargle repeatedly to soothes a sore throat,
  • Consume a lot of vitamin C. Take foods sure to be strawberries, tangerines, oranges, grapefruit, melon, mango, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, red cabbage, spinach, and papaya to boost your immune system. These vitamin C-containing foods are rich in antioxidants, which combat free radicals that cause oxidative stress and illnesses.
  • Boost your zinc intake. Foods such as beef, turkey, pork, eggs, cooked oysters, yogurt, oatmeal, and wheat germ contain a high amount of zinc and help increase immunity.
  • Opt for medications safe for lactating mothers. Cold medicines like decongestants (apart from pseudoephedrine or phenylephedrine-containing decongestants), pain relievers like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol) are safe for nursing mothers. Consult a doctor or pharmacist before you take any medicine for a cold to get suitable recommendations.

Best Cough Syrup for Lactating Mothers

One of the best cough syrups for lactating mothers is a dextromethorphan cough suppressant (brand- Delsym, Robitussin). It works well for those that have a dry cough.

If mucus accompanies your cough, guaifenesin ER (brand- Mucinex) is an effective alternative. Although only a little study has been done on Guaifenesin ER, a consensus is that the proper dosage may not cause any harm to your baby.

Cold Medicine While Breastfeeding List

What is the available and safe cold medicine while breastfeeding list? You may wonder as most over-the-counter (OTC) drugs carry certain warnings to breastfeeding or lactating mothers.

Therefore, it is best you first consult a doctor or a pharmacist to get suitable and safe cold medicine. However, many OTC drugs are safe to use while breastfeeding.

Flu and cold can mess with your day or week, making it challenging to enjoy your work and family. You are likely to experience uncomfortable cold symptoms like sore throat, cough, and a runny or congested nose.

Thankfully, you can relieve these symptoms with over-the-counter cold medications.

When purchasing OTC medications, it is vital to check the active ingredients to avoid exposing your infant to a potentially harmful medicine – since these drugs can pass through your breast milk (below one percent of the taken dose).

Here is the safe cold medicine while breastfeeding list you can take while breastfeeding, but it is not limited to:

  • Decongestants

Decongestants like Afrin and Allegra are safe for lactating mothers. But those containing pseudoephedrine and phenylephedrine, even though they are safe, tend to decrease milk supply.

These active ingredients relieve cold symptoms by constricting blood vessels in the body, including the breasts, reducing the blood flow required for milk production.  Although some decongestants may cause restlessness and irritability in babies, some infants do not seem bothered.

  • Antihistamines

Allergy symptoms can come with cold sometimes. Fortunately, an allergy reliever, antihistamines, is also safe for breastfeeding mothers. But certain allergy medicines can cause drowsiness.

Antihistamines that have active ingredients diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine may cause marked sluggishness and drowsiness.

Breastfeeding while taking these drugs can make your little one feel sleepy. Avoid this side effect by buying non-drowsy antihistamines, such as fexofenadine (Allegra) and loratadine (Claritin).

  • Pain Relievers

Cold symptoms severities vary from person to person. You may have body aches or need a pain reliever for a sore throat. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen sodium, and acetaminophen are safe options while breastfeeding.

If you prefer treating a painful sore throat without these types of medications, you can ease symptoms with lozenges or an over-the-counter sore throat gargle.

  • Cough Suppressants

If you have a constant cough, cough suppressant medications with dextromethorphan as the active ingredient are safe to use while breastfeeding.

  • Antibiotics

Most antibiotics, though effective, are likely to pass through breast milk. Review them with your pharmacist or doctor while informing them that you are breastfeeding.

Can I Breastfeed my Newborn While Sick With COVID-19?

Yes, you can. So far, researchers have not discovered coronavirus in breast milk.

However, if you have contracted COVID-19, your baby could get infected through tiny droplets that spread from talking, sneezing and coughing.

Consult your physician to help you decide whether or not you should continue breastfeeding your child.

As you know, breast milk offers the best nutrients for your infant and contains antibodies that protect against illnesses and infections.

So while you are down with COVID, you or a caregiver can feed your baby with expressed breast milk.

But if you want to breastfeed or give your child expressed milk in a baby bottle, you should take the necessary COVID-19 precautions to avoid spreading the virus to him.

  • Wash your hands before and after you touch your little one.
  • Wear a face mask while breastfeeding.
  • Properly wash your hands before touching baby bottle parts or breast pumps. Clean all the parts after every use.
  • Better still, you can allow somebody else at home who is not ill to give your little one your expressed breast milk.

In a Nutshell

When you are sick and breastfeeding a newborn, there are essential things to note.

You might think it is safer not to breastfeed your baby while you are down with a cold or sick until you recover.

However, several pediatricians, lactating, and medical experts advise mothers who are sick while breastfeeding to breastfeed since babies get antibodies from breast milk. These antibodies will strengthen babies’ immune systems and decrease their chances of falling ill.

Before you take any of this cold medication while breastfeeding, you must consult a doctor or pharmacist. Your health care provider is in the best position to answer all your many questions.

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