Safe treatments for colds while breastfeeding

There are many nutrients that are safe to use to treat or prevent a common cold while breastfeeding. Some examples include: vitamin C, echinacea, garlic, elderberry, vitamin D, zinc, oscillococcinum and coryzalia, and probiotics. Your naturopath may recommend other herbs or nutrients that are safe while under supervision. Make sure you are consuming extra fluids, especially water, during this time as it is common for milk production to decline during a cold. Some moms find the use of a humidifier helpful as well as salt water gargling twice daily (1/4 – ½ tsp of salt in 1 c of water).

If you can avoid over-the-counter (OTC) medications during this time that is best as almost all drugs transfer into breastmilk. Below are some common examples of OTC medications and their safety profile with respect to breastfeeding.

  • Ibuprofen (Advil) – considered safe, transfer to breastmilk approximately 0.6% maternal dose and is preferred over other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – generally regarded as safe, will transfer a small amount into breastmilk, (*research showing a 46% increase in asthma and 35% increase in eczema in children who were given Tylenol in their first year of life, this does not correlate to maternal transfer but something to consider).  
  • Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) & phenylephrine (a new decongestant) – transfers to breastmilk, reduced milk production and increased irritability in infants has been reported, recommended use only if necessary and for a short period.
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) – found in many nighttime formulas, transfers to milk and infants should be monitored for drowsiness and irritibility, recommended for a short duration only if needed.

Always talk to your healthcare provider before taking any medications while breastfeeding. Ask what potential side effects and symptoms your infant might experience so you are aware of what to look for.

Read this post to find out the difference between cold, flu's and allergies. For information about preventing allergies, check out this post. Tips for preventing colds and flu's can be found here and about preventing the spread of colds and flu's here.