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How To Safely Fight The Common Cold While Breast Feeding

Did you know that the average time it takes for a common cold to run its course is 7-14 days? When the runny nose, itchy throat and throbbing head ache hit me, I knew that taking any old cold medicine might have a negative effect on my breast milk and might not be safe for baby. So I figured I would just power through it. I changed my mind by day 2 and was desperately scouring the internet for methods of relief that were safe for baby and my milk. Good news- there is a way to find quick relief!

Natural Remedies

  • Steam Showers- There is no better way to thin out the mucus build up than a good relaxing steam shower. This gives mom a good excuse for some much needed alone time too!
  • Hot Liquids- This is great for the itchy throat and cough. I had my fair share of decaf vanilla chai’s before bed each night.
  • Saline Spray-This one was harder to find than I expected. Most sprays had an active ingredient in them, but if you can find a solution that is just salt and water, it’s a great way to help drain any fluids.
  • Hot Compress- If you have pressure in your ears that is causing discomfort along your tubes, you can always try a hot compress to relieve some of the pain. This one works great for kiddos too!
  • Hydrate- If you are congested, this will help thin out the mucus, thus helping you clear it.
  • Vitamin C- Either from food, juice or a supplement.
  • Salt Water Gargle- Great for sore throat. 1 tablespoon salt mixed into 8 ounces of warm water. Don’t drink- just gargle and spit out several times. Provides almost instant relief!

Over the Counter

This is where it gets tricky. As a breast feeding mama, you run into risks of passing active ingredients on to baby that might not be safe and you could also be effecting your milk supply. Anything that contains an antihistamine is a big no-no. I also consider anything that has a drowsy side effect to be off limits too as it will be passed onto baby.There is a short list of over the counter medicines that can be taken with minimal effects on your milk and baby, but as always- talk to your doctor before taking any medications. I am not a medical professional and cannot give medical advice.

Nasal Sprays

Flonase saved me. My congestion was out of this world and the pressure in my nasal passages was almost unbearable. Jay headed to the store to search for saline spray, but was unable to find it. Flonase was the closes thing we could find and after a quick google search and call to my doc, I was given the green light. explains:

“of the preparations available for treatment of allergic symptoms, corticosteroid nasal sprays (e.g., Flonase, Nasacort, etc.) and cromolyn sodium nasal spray (a mast cell stabilizer, e.g., Nasalcrom) are considered to be, by far, some of the most effective and safest to use in breastfeeding moms”.

Is that good news or what? I did one squirt per day and by day 2 I was a whole new mama.  A few years ago when battling allergies, a nurse gave me some great advice about nasal sprays. She told me when you go to spray it, pull your cheek back towards your ear and then spray. I use the large part of my palm closest to my wrist to pull it back. You can really feel it open your nasal passage. Once you spray, instead of trying to sniff the medicine and far up as possible, simply bend over and let your head hand towards your feet. It may seem strange, but doing this really helped get the spray up to where it needed to be to get me feeling better.

Pain Relievers

Advil, Motrin and Tylenol are considered compatible with breast feeding. Follow the recommended dosage. Aspirin is not considered safe.

Cough Drops

Cough drops and lozenges are considered safe and provide great relief for sore throats and coughs. Avoid drops that are menthol flavored as menthol has been shown to decrease milk supply.

Being sick is always tough, but it is even harder when you have a little baby to look after too! Reach out for help so you can get the rest you need. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor… baby is depending on you and needs you well!

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