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Safe Cold Medicines to Take While Breastfeeding

The Truth About Taking Cold Medicine While Breastfeeding, Straight From a Doctor

The dreaded flu season is back with a vengeance this year, and while getting sick is bad enough when you only have yourself to worry about, it's even more stressful when you also have kids or a newborn to keep alive take care of. And if you're breastfeeding, a huge concern is knowing which medicines are safe to take (will the list of things to consider as a mom ever stop growing?!).

Dr. Laura Glenn from Rejuvena Health & Aesthetics recently spoke to POPSUGAR about what to do if you're sick and nursing. "Medication that a nursing mother takes can transfer into breast milk," she warned. "I recommend that moms ask their doctors for advice prior to starting any new medication, and if they are not provided with satisfactory information, they can review the lactation safety information themselves. Many practices that regularly work with breastfeeding women keep a list of 'safe' over-the-counter medications that breastfeeding moms can take when needed for symptom relief."

If a nursing mother wants to do some research on her own, Dr. Glenn directs women to LactMed. "[It] is a great online database maintained by the US National Library of Medicine that individuals can use for free to look up medications and review safety information in lactation," she continued.

Speaking generally, Dr. Glenn recommends that women who are nursing look for "over-the-counter combination homeopathic medicines to treat their cold symptoms." Since the active ingredients have been diluted, they are more safe. However, she says it's also important to note that "'homeopathic' is not the same as 'herbal', and there are many herbal products that are not appropriate for use by breastfeeding women."

When considering what to take when bogged down with a cold, ahead is a list of methods that have been shown to have minimal risk for nursing mothers. Again, be sure to clear any medication with your doctor before beginning any new regimen.

  • For pain relief, Tylenol (Acetaminophen), Advil, and Motrin (Ibuprofen) are considered safe for women who are breastfeeding.
  • For itchy and watery eyes, most cold and allergy relief drops are considered safe.
  • Pseudoephedrine works great as a decongestant and is mostly considered safe for nursing moms. Be aware, however, that there is minor risk for a drop in milk production.
  • To relieve a painful cough, most throat lozenges are fine. Many forms of Robitussin are also safe to take, but be sure to clear it with your doctor to double check the active ingredients list.
  • Oscillococcinum is an example of the over-the-counter combination homeopathic medicines that Dr. Glenn mentioned, although it's worth noting that their website recommends clearing concerns with a doctor before starting.
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