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Nursing a Cold While Breastfeeding

Nursing a Cold While BreastfeedingIt stinks to be a sick mom. There’s no way around that. Housework still needs to be done, dinner cooked, children cared for – even if you feel as if you just want to down a shot of Nyquil and crawl under the covers for about a week.

When you’re a nursing mother – whether your baby is newborn, close to a year, or older – you don’t even have the option of downing Nyquil due to concerns about alcohol and breastfeeding. It can be pure torture. What can you do?

When I came down with a cold last week – at the same time my nine-month-old was battling a double ear infection – I devised a few coping strategies.


Sleep when baby sleeps. Remember what they used to tell you in those first few weeks after childbirth? That’s right … take advantage of naptime to catch some ZZZs yourself. If you have to, lie down with your nursing baby in the middle of the day. Whatever it takes, get your rest.


Tylenol, Advil, Benadryl and Chlor-trimeton are approved for use while breastfeeding. Be aware that Benadryl may reduce your milk supply and also may make the baby drowsy. (I know it’s politically incorrect, but if you’re sick, is this really so horrible?)

Keep in mind that most antihistamines and decongestants, including Dimetapp and Sudafed, are not recommended while breastfeeding, as they may substantially decrease your milk supply. Any products with menthol, including menthol cough drops, may also decrease your milk supply. Find out more information on medicine and nursing mothers.


Research shows that putting Vicks or other menthol products in a vaporizer can be harmful to an infant’s lungs. However, a humidifier with plain filtered water can do wonders to clear and moisten your nasal passages.


This is one of my favorite natural cold remedies, and most doctors say it’s safe if you’re breastfeeding a baby. Every two hours, I alternate a vitamin C drop with a zinc-gluconate drop, such as Cold-eeze. Oddly, vitamin C blocks the positive effects of zinc, so make sure to wait an hour between each drop. Do not drink any citrus for an hour before or after taking zinc, either.

Neti Pot

Highly recommended for people with recurring allergies or sinus problems, a neti pot works well to clear the nasal passages during the common cold, as well. Since it’s all natural and you’re not actually ingesting anything, it’s 100% safe for a nursing mom. It’s not the aforementioned Nyquil, but hey, we’ll take what we can get, right?

Drink Water

If you’re sick and run down, and possibly stressed out as a result, your milk supply may drop. To maintain your supply, make sure you get plenty of rest, drink water, and take in enough calories. A nursing mom needs about 500 more calories per day to compensate for the extra work the body does to produce milk. Since you’re probably not very active if you’re sick, you may get away with eating a little bit less than usual since you’re not burning as many calories. Still, remember to follow the old adage and “feed a cold.” Drink water, tea, juices – anything you can in order to stay hydrated and keep your milk supply up.

The good news, as a breastfeeding mom, is that your body is producing antibodies to fight your cold, and passing those antibodies onto your little one. That’s not to say your breastfed baby won’t get sick if you’re sick, but there’s a good chance she won’t. If your baby does get your cold, it might be a milder version.

I’ve had three colds in the past nine months – my most recent bout passed my daughter by, although she did catch the two colds prior. As she gets older, her immune system is getting stronger and I’m sure the fact that I’m still nursing her has helped a lot.

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