Flu Breastfeeding :Are Cold and Flu Medications Ok While Breastfeeding?

Flu Breastfeeding By Liz Pevytoe, RN, IBCLC Published 12/2009

A very common question during cold and flu season. When you have the flu breastfeeding questions can arise

Normally when sick, many people head to the medication isle at the drug store for relief. But when you are breastfeeding you must consider all medications potential effects on you, your milk supply and the baby.

Most cold and flu medications contain antihistamines and decongestants. Antihistamines are the medications that will remedy a runny nose. Decongestants are medications that remedy sinus or nasal congestion. Unfortunately for cold and flu sufferers, neither of these medications are recommended while breastfeeding. Why you ask? Because, they have both been known to negatively affect your milk supply. Your runny nose may dry up, but your milk may too.

So what can you take?
Over the counter analgesics: acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain. Zinc supplements to help shorten the duration of the virus. Guaifenesin (cough suppressant) is safe to use while breastfeeding. Use if the cough is not allowing you to sleep. Saline or Afrin nasal spray for nasal congestion. Humidifier in the room. Drink lots of fluids. Eat a healthy diet.

Some things to consider about cold and flu symptoms. Fever is the body’s way to turn on the immune system. Fevers under 104 degrees are not dangerous, they are beneficial, they help to fight the infection. A runny nose is the body’s way of cleansing the sinus passages of the virus germs. A productive/wet cough should not be stopped with medications. If you stop the cough, the mucous can get stuck in the lungs and could develop into a bacterial infection. Most cold viruses cause a fever for 2-3 days, nasal discharge for 7-14 days and a cough 2-3 weeks. What about the flu vaccine and Tamiflu while breastfeeding? Both are considered safe while breastfeeding.

Is there anything you can do to prevent getting sick?

1. Get plenty of rest.
2. Wash your hands frequently; refrain from touching your face with dirty hands.
3. Blow your nose often. (this is often where the viruses first enter)
4. Gargle with salt water and wash nasal passages with salt water. (consider using a asana irrigation system to wash your nasal passages)
5. Eat a healthy diet, choose foods rich in Vitamin C and zinc which are natural immune system boosters.
6. Drink warm fluids; wash those germs right into your gastrointestinal tract where they don’t stand a chance!

In summary, prevention will save you much discomfort with a cold or flu. But if you do develop a cold or flu, remember to check all over the counter medications with a lactation consultant or physician. Many moms assume over the counter medications are safe while breastfeeding. This is not the case. It is recommended to check with your lactation consultant or pediatrician before ingesting any medication.

I hope this article flu breastfeeding helped answer your questions.

Back from Flu and Breastfeeding to Breastfeeding Articles page

Back from Flu Breastfeeding to askthelactationconsultant.com