Decongestants: Safe while nursing?

I have a cold and would like to take pseudoephedrine. I am nursing my three-month-old. Is it safe to take decongestants while nursing?

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Kathy Kuhn

Kathy Kuhn is a registered nurse who has been working with breastfeeding families since 1981. She has been an International Board Certified... Read more

Pseudoephedrine is approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics for use in breastfeeding mothers. It is secreted into breast milk in low levels, calculated to pass at 0.4 to 0.6 percent of the mother's dose.

However, anecdotal information and recent preliminary information on a study of this medication suggest that for some women pseudoephedrine may decrease milk supply. If you already have a compromised milk supply it may be advisable to use other medications until more is known.

If you use this medication, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to compensate for any drying effects and monitor your baby's diapers for any drop in output. Your baby should have at least six sopping wet diapers each 24 hours. If you notice the baby is wetting or stooling less than normal you may want to discontinue the medication. If a dip in milk supply occurs, it is usually easily resolved with a few days of more frequent nursing.

As always, you should consult with your pediatrician to address any issues specific to your baby related to taking medication while breastfeeding.

References:

  • Hale T., Medications and Mother's Milk, 2000, Pharmasoft Amarillo, pp 558-559
  • Mitchell J.L., "Use of cough and cold preparations during breastfeeding," Journal of Human Lactation, 1999 Dec:15(4):347-9
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