Cold medications: Safe while breastfeeding?

I am nursing my three-month-old daughter and woke up with a cold. Is it still safe to nurse her? Also, can I take any OTC medications?


Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

 During most illnesses, both mom and baby benefit from continued breastfeeding. When you are exposed to an illness, your body makes specific antibodies, which are then passed on to your baby through your breastmilk.

Most prescription and over-the-counter drugs are compatible with breastfeeding. Though most drugs do pass into breastmilk, it is almost always in an amount equal to less than one percent of the adult dosage. You should still ask your doctor first about which ones he or she prefers. It is still wise for nursing mothers to use medication only when absolutely necessary.

Since a cold is limited in nature and will clear up soon on its own, you might want to consider avoiding medications at this time.

Antihistamines, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), are common ingredients in cold remedies and can cause a dramatic decrease in your milk supply. The long-lasting, 12-hour preparations, can stay in your baby's system for a longer period of time, therefore accumulating more readily.

You can always go the old-fashioned route - rest, drinking lots of fluids, eating foods high in vitamin C and using a vaporizer.


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