Safe Cold Medicines While Breastfeeding: What can I take?
What cold medicine while breastfeeding can I take? Many nursing mothers are often concerned about popping pills when they come down with a cold.
Whether you call it “sniffles,” “throat tickle,” or “pink eye,” no one enjoys being sick. But if you happen to be breastfeeding your baby, figuring out what to take for your symptoms can be difficult. The last thing that would be on your mind s to take something that could harm your little one.
Although many cold medicines are safe to take while breastfeeding, they can enter your breast milk in small quantities and affect your baby.
Therefore, it is smart to learn about the recommended dosages for these cold medications to help ensure your baby doesn’t consume too much of the drugs through your breast milk.
In addition, you will also want to ensure that the cold medicine is safe so as not to cause an adverse reaction in your little one.
So, what cold medicine is safe to take while breastfeeding?
Before we go down to the business of the day, “cold medicine while breastfeeding,” let’s briefly go through the meaning of common cold and its symptoms. Then, simple tips to help you get through your cold safely while breastfeeding.
What is Common Cold?
A common cold, also known as cold, is a viral infectious disease that affects your nose and throat (upper respiratory system).
In most cases, it is harmless, though it does not feel that way. The spread of colds occurs through air droplets and on surfaces.
Several virus types can cause a cold, and the human body cannot build up immunity to all of them. As a result, colds are common and recur frequently.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that an average healthy adult has two to three colds annually. Also, babies and young children are likely to experience more frequent cold symptoms.
Generally, you don’t need to visit a health care center to treat a common cold. But, you may have to consult a medical practitioner or pharmacist on what safe cold medicine while breastfeeding you can take.
Thankfully, most people tend to recover from a cold in a week or about ten days. However, its symptoms might last longer in individuals who smoke.
But if your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, please see a doctor.
Cold Symptoms: How to Know You Have a Cold?
You need to even recognize these symptoms before getting a safe cold medicine while breastfeeding.
So, when you contract a cold virus, your immune system will try to combat it. This results in the cold symptoms you experience. These symptoms can differ from person to person. However, the typical cold symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Runny or blocked nose
Other rare symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Fatigue and weakness
- Low appetite
Symptoms may be more severe, such as pneumonia, in people with a weakened immune system. In the event of more severe symptoms, you should seek medical attention.
Cold symptoms evolve in stages. In most cases, cold symptoms appear slowly, reach their peak and then gradually fade.
Should I Stay Away from Baby If I Have a Cold?
Yes. When you’re sick and have a cough, fever, or cold, it’s best to stay away from your baby (at least till your symptoms improve).
If you are infected with a cold, your little one may contract the disease. Therefore, make sure you protect your infant from being infected.
In addition, if you have healthy people around that can help, use breast pumps like Haakaa, Ameda Mya, Elvie or Willow to pump your breast milk into a feeding bottle. You have to carry out several hygiene practices, ensuring you wash and sterilize the bottles and breast pumps before use. Then allow such a healthy individual close by to bottle feed your little one.
However, if you are the only caregiver around, it may be impossible to distance yourself. In this case, use extra caution when cold while breastfeeding.
Some of the precautions to take when cold while breastfeeding includes the following:
- Washing your hands thoroughly before touching your little one or using a hand sanitizer when you have a cold. This involves washing your hands before feeding, changing your baby’s clothes and diapers or once you enter the house.
- Properly washing your baby’s toys and bottles.
- Sneezing or coughing into a clean tissue paper and then disposing of it.
- Avoid keeping close facial contact, kissing, and touching your baby’s hands and mouth.
- Wearing a nose mask when breastfeeding to protect your baby’s face while sneezing, breathing, or coughing.
What Cold Medicine Can I Take While Breastfeeding?
What cold medicine while breastfeeding can I take? We have compiled a list of cold medicines that are safe to take while breastfeeding.
While you can get most of these cold medications over the counter at pharmacies and authorized medicine stores, ensure to speak with your doctor first.
A doctor can provide you with precise information regarding your specific situation and that of your baby.
Here we go!
Medical professionals recommend using Ibuprofen (e.g. Advil, Motrin), acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol), and naproxen sodium, as they are considered safe to take while breastfeeding.
Different people experience different degrees of symptom severity when they have a cold. You may need to relieve pain if you have a sore throat or body aches.
These medicines help with the pain that accompanies a cold, like muscle aches, headaches, or a sore throat.
While they are mostly available alone, you can also find these active ingredients combined with other cold ingredients/medicine.
Aspirin may be an effective pain killer, but it is not suitable for nursing mothers. Research has shown that children taking Aspirin directly can develop Reye’s syndrome, a condition characterized by liver and brain swelling.
Therefore, you should prevent the danger of passing Aspirin through breast milk to your baby.
In case of a sore throat, you might also use a common pain reliever such as Ibuprofen or acetaminophen. As an alternative to these types of medications, you can ease painful sore throat symptoms with lozenges, OTC sore throat gargles, cough drops or spray.
Local throat pain relievers such as lozenges and sprays are generally considered safe, but many contain menthol.
You do not want to consume too much menthol, so I recommend sticking to the package instructions and not taking more than you need.
If you have a cold while breastfeeding, it is best to use a dextromethorphan cough suppressant with brands- Delsym and Robitussin.
Dextromethorphan cough suppressant works well for mothers with a dry cough.
But you can take guaifenesin ER (brand- Mucinex) if you have a cough accompanied by mucus.
Although few studies have been conducted on Guaifenesin ER, a consensus appears to suggest that the right dosage doesn’t pose any health threat to your baby.
Head or Nasal Congestion
Lactating mothers can use decongestants like Afrin and Allegra. Although drugs with pseudoephedrine and phenylephedrine ingredients are safe, they tend to reduce milk production.
Using these active ingredients, the body’s blood vessels, including those in the breast, are constricted, reducing the blood flow your body needs for milk production.
As an alternative to decongestant pills, there are also antibacterial and antifungal nasal sprays for treating nasal congestion. These cold products have little or no effect on the rest of the body. As a result, they are generally safer options for nursing moms.
Some examples of nasal sprays you can get over the counter are triamcinolone (Nasacort), oxymetazoline (Afrin), drug-free saline, and fluticasone (Flonase),
Other prescription nasal sprays include azelastine (Astelin), budesonide (Rhinocort Aqua), and mometasone (Nasonex).
Runny Nose, Allergy, Watery & Itchy Eyes
Antihistamines are excellent at relieving allergies, watery eyes, and drying up runny noses and are safe for breastfeeding mothers.
Most older antihistamines are known to cause drowsiness and sluggishness. Examples are chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl). But they tend to work better at easing cold symptoms.
Alternatively, people prefer the newer antihistamines versions like fexofenadine (Allegra), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and loratadine (Claritin). These ingredients cause little to no drowsiness.
Breastfeeding while taking the older antihistamine medicines can cause your infant to feel sleepy. Therefore, buy the non-drowsy antihistamines options.
Furthermore, if you are experiencing allergies, itchy or watery eyes, consider using eye drops as a much safer cold medicine while breastfeeding.
Home Remedies for Cold while Breastfeeding
Perhaps you are hesitant to use chemical compounds! Or maybe you are giving off mild symptoms. Trying natural remedies is a great idea.
Natural or home remedies can provide relief from cold symptoms, helping you to feel more comfortable and possibly shortening the duration of the illness.
So, here is what you can do when you have a cold while breastfeeding.
Get a Good Amount of Rest
Colds are a sign that your immune system is working overtime to combat the virus. You can feel highly exhausted, especially when you are up with your baby in the middle of the night. Therefore, sleep plays a crucial role in recharging your body and combating the disease.
To reap the maximum regenerating effects, make sure you get enough sleep! If you need to rest, someone else can nurse your infant (except when it’s time to eat).
Alternatively, tuck yourself in bed with your baby and stay there all day.
Take Enough Fluids
In sickness, we often don’t feel thirsty or hungry, but we have to drink plenty of fluids to function properly and to carry out our duties. Maintaining hydration also helps clear secretions and ease symptoms such as nausea and fever. It is also essential for maintaining a good milk supply while you feel sick.
The recommended daily fluid intake for breastfeeding mothers is approximately three litres, but do not let that number discourage you. It is not compulsory to drink only water day and night!
Other fluids you can take include green teas, natural fruit juices, coconut water, low-calorie sweeteners, broths, warm soups, and sports drinks. However, avoid caffeine-containing drinks, which can promote restlessness and increase water loss via your kidneys.
Use Humidifiers and Vapourizers
Vaporizers and humidifiers help keep the air moist, making coughing and itching easier when you have a cold or flu.
A humidifier releases cool mist into the air, while a vaporizer generates steam.
The medical community recommends cool mist humidifiers for homes with small children so the child will not be burned if they put their face in the steam or knock the vaporizer over.
However, ensure that you wash and dry out your humidifier daily to prevent bacteria and mould buildup.
Neti pot devices resemble small teapots. So, you will have to pour filtered water mixed with a saline solution into one of your nostrils to remove mucus buildup in the other nostrils.
When a cold is present, a Neti Pot can help clear the nasal passages and relieve allergies, congestion and sinus issues. Because it’s a nasal flush, it won’t enter your breast milk since you aren’t ingesting anything while using it! Therefore, a Neti pot is safe for a cold while breastfeeding.
When used while breastfeeding, zinc gluconate is considered a safe cold remedy. Zinc prevents rhinoviruses from multiplying.
Many studies discover that zinc can shorten the duration of a cold by up to a day, especially if taken within 24 hours after the symptoms start.
Instead, the liquid form or lozenge is a recommended alternative.
A Guide to Safe Cold Medicines while Breastfeeding
These are a few critical guides you should follow to ensure your choice of medicine won’t affect your baby through breast milk.
Apply Caution with Combined Ingredients
I’ll advise you don’t treat your symptoms with a combination of drugs. A single medicine with a safe active ingredient will do the job. But if you must go for cold medications containing multiple ingredients, ensure to check the label or pack for their active ingredients (not brand name).
Go for Short-Acting Cold Medicines
It’s generally best to take short-acting drugs (6 hours or less) instead of long-acting ones. This also involves taking nonsedating antihistamines.
Choose Nasal Sprays
Wherever possible, opt for nasal spray over oral medications.
Take Cold Medicines after Breastfeeding
You should take your medications right after you nurse and only as necessary.
Takeaway on Cold Medicines while Breastfeeding
Be rest assured that many cold medicines for breastfeeding mothers are available as either over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drugs.
However, you will need to see your physician or a pharmacist to get the one that suits your needs as a nursing mother.
Also, stay away from cold medications that have multiple active ingredients.
The goal is to get safe cold medicines while breastfeeding to protect your baby from adverse reactions.
If you have questions about this topic, kindly drop them in the comment section.
I also have a similar article that will interest you- Breastfeeding While Sick: What Medicine Can I Take?