Breastfeeding And Cold And Flu Tablets – Is It Okay?

Breastfeeding And Cold And Flu Tablets - Is It Okay?

Just like anyone else, breastfeeding mothers can come down with a cold or the flu.

When symptoms strike, such as coughing, sneezing, a blocked or runny nose, and an overall lousy feeling, many people will reach out for various cold and flu medicines to help alleviate their symptoms.

For breastfeeding mothers however, this may not be so automatic.

The very fact they are breastfeeding means many will think twice before taking any medication, and only take it once they know it’s safe for their baby and won’t mess with their milk supply.

Breastfeeding And Cold And Flu Tablets

The good news is there are many natural remedies and over-the-counter products that are compatible with breastfeeding and can help alleviate cold and flu symptoms.

Natural Remedies For Cold and Flu While Breastfeeding

There are various natural remedies you can try to help combat a cold. For example:

  • Rest as much as you can. Breastfeeding lying down is a great way to do this
  • Drink lots of water. You need more fluids when you are unwell, so drinking more water than usual can help you stay hydrated. A electrolyte supplement like Endura (Metagenics brand) can help to prevent dehydration.
  • Run a humidifier or use saline nasal spray to help relieve nasal congestion. Some people find it helps to put some boiling water in a container, add a few drops of essential oils (e.g. eucalyptus) and then drape a towel over their head and breathe in the steam for about 5 minutes
  • You may find it helpful to try Echinacea, eat garlic (best raw and freshly cut, else cooked or as a supplement) or consume extra vitamin C (e.g. from foods or as a supplement)
  • If you have a sore throat, it may help to sip on hot water with honey and lemon, suck on an ice cube or to gargle salt water or apple cider vinegar (look for products that say they contain ‘the mother’ – Bragg’s is a well known brand) and water

Breastfeeding and Cold and Flu Tablets / Medications

Whenever you feel unwell, it’s a good idea to see your doctor and/or pharmacist. They’ll be able to best guide you about what to do to help you feel better as soon as possible. Pharmacists are usually very up to date with drug contraindications and are a  great resource when you’re unsure about any medications and breastfeeding.

Also, before taking any of the following, it’s important to speak with your doctor and/or pharmacist. They will also be able to guide you about what you can safely take while breastfeeding.

Here is some general information about various cold and flu medications and breastfeeding.

  • Throat lozenges, gargles and sprays are generally considered safe. Gargles containing povidone-iodine (e.g. Betadine and Viodine) are best avoided though. Cough drops are considered safe too, but those with menthol added, if consumed excessively, may reduce your milk supply.
  • Nasal sprays are generally considered safe (e.g. Sinex, Otrivin)
  • Although the decongestant medications containing pseudoephedrine (e.g. Sudafed and Demazin) are generally considered safe, they can reduce your milk supply
  • There are various elixirs which claim to alleviate coughs. However, the very poor efficacy of such elixirs (e.g. Robitussin, Delsym, Benylin) generally suggest that they don’t provide enough justification for use when breastfeeding. Nonetheless, negative effects to breastfed babies have not been found.

Hopefully this article has provided you with some helpful information about breastfeeding and cold and flu tablets, and you’ll feel better very soon! For more evidence-based and up-to-date information about breastfeeding and cold and flu tablets (or other medications), visit TOXNET lactmed and/or speak with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also contact the InfantRisk to speak with someone regarding the safety of medication while breastfeeding.

Last Updated: March 4, 2016


Renee Kam is mother to Jessica and Lara, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a physiotherapist, author of 'The Newborn Baby Manual' and an Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor. In her spare time, Renee enjoys spending time with family and friends, horse riding, running and reading.

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