Clara has had a severe cold and an irritating headache. However, the cold and stuffy nose don’t bother her as much as the medication. She isn’t sure if she should opt for medication as her baby is still breastfeeding. If she doesn’t control the cold, her baby might get it from her? And if she uses medication for cold, it might affect the little one by passing through the breastmilk.
If you, too, are in a similar dilemma, then MomJunction can tell you what you should do as we help you know if it is safe to take medicines for cold when you are breastfeeding your baby.
Is It Safe To Breastfeed When Suffering From Cold?
It is entirely safe to breastfeed your baby when suffering from cold (1) or even cold and flu together (2). Cold can be of several types such as one that affects the sinus, cold that causes a headache (called head colds), and one that leads to flu (which is the most severe). Irrespective of the type of cold, the body detects the infection and attacks the pathogen through antibodies, which are passed to your baby through the breastmilk, shielding him from the pathogens (3). Thus, breastfeeding during cold is a good way of protecting the baby since the little one receives bonus antibodies through the breastmilk.
Precautions To Be Taken When Breastfeeding With Cold
While the breastmilk transfers only the antibodies, the air you breathe can be a carrier of pathogens. Hence, you must be cautious if you are suffering from cold and breastfeeding your baby:
- Wash hands before holding the baby: Using a disinfectant soap, wash your hands thoroughly to eliminate any pathogens on your hands, before holding the baby. Also, wash hands before handling the baby’s items to prevent the transfer of pathogens on to them.
- Use a facemask while breastfeeding: A face mask will prevent the transmission of pathogens through air if you accidentally sneeze or cough while breastfeeding.
- Limit close contact with the baby: We know you love giving that good night kiss to your little one but refrain from doing so until the cold has been cured. Do not cuddle with a baby unless he needs physical contact for reassurance. And wear a face mask before holding him close.
Precautions go a long way in taking care of the baby. But in case you need medication, you must know about the right one to keep your baby away from any side-effects.
Is It Safe To Take Medicines For Cold When Breastfeeding?
There are several medicines for cold and its symptoms of flu and cough. However, some drugs could be harmful to the baby.
Safe Cold Medicines When Breastfeeding:
Following is the list of cold medicines that are safe to use when breastfeeding :
1. Acetaminophen/ paracetamol
Tylenol, which is an acetaminophen or paracetamol, can be taken during breastfeeding. Acetaminophen, an analgesic, is the active compound that relieves you from pain, inflammation, and fever. Besides Tylenol, the analgesic is present in Panadol and Crocin too.
Acetaminophen can pass into breastmilk but does not harm the infant (4). It is an over-the-counter (OTC) cold medicine for nursing mothers.
Ibuprofen goes by brand names such as Advil or Motrin and is safe for a lactating mother. The American Academy of Paediatrics considers the medicine safe for the baby (5). Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDS), which reduces pain and inflammation, and brings down high fever. It can be used for a headache, cold with a sinus infection, and flu.
Ibuprofen, although OTC, should be consumed only after a doctor’s consultation as it is not recommended for people suffering from stomach ulcers and asthma as it can worsen the condition (6). Ibuprofen can pass into breastmilk, but in micro quantities that do not affect the baby.
It is a cough-suppressing compound found in several OTC cough and cold medicines. Dextromethorphan is safe for lactating mothers and the baby (7). However, it should be avoided by mothers with asthma, diabetes, liver disease, or those suffering from chronic bronchitis.
4. Bromhexine and guaifenesin
These are mucolytic cold medicines, also known as expectorants, which provide relief from a chesty cough. Here, the mucus in the lungs is loosened by the body through the coughing reflex. Bromhexine and guaifenesin work great to cure a chesty cough and are safe for the mother and child (8). These are not OTC drugs and should be taken only if the doctor prescribes them.
Amoxicillin is an antibiotic that is prescribed for the treatment of cold and sinus infection (9). It is safe for the mother and child. There have been isolated cases of side effects among breastfeeding babies, but the effects are rare and resolve without any harm. The American Academy of Paediatrics considers the medicine safe during lactation (10).
6. Zinc gluconate
It is a zinc compound that is used in OTC medicines such as Cold-eeze and Zicam. The compound is administered through the nose (as gel) or through the oral route in the form of tablets. Nasal application, limited to 12mg a day (11), by the mother is safe for the infant due to its topical and localized application (12). Though an OTC drug, a doctor must be consulted before taking this medicine.
7. Chlorpheniramine and hydroxyzine
They are referred to as antihistamine drugs and are used to treat runny, blocked, or stuffy nose caused by an allergy. These medicines could be prescribed during allergic rhinitis, also called hay fever. Chlorpheniramine and hydroxyzine are considered safe while breastfeeding since a very small quantity gets transferrednto the breas milk. A study found isolated cases of mothers reporting colic, irritability, and drowsiness in their babies after theydtook these drug4). However, researchers noted that the conditions were less intense and resolved without any medical intervention and it was concluded that these drugs can be used under medical supervision (13).
Unsafe or Potentially Harmful Cold Medicines During Breastfeeding:
Medications you must be wary of during breastfeeding are:
Aspirin may have multiple medical benefits including alleviating cold, but a lactating mother should avoid it. It can cause acidosis in infants, a condition in which the kidneys are unable to maintain pH levels in the blood, making it more acidic. Aspirin may even cause Reye’s syndrome in infants where the blood thins and the organs such as brain and liver begin to swell (14).
2. Codeine and dihydrocodeine
Recent research suggests that codeine could be harmful (15). It is an analgesic, which is combined with other safe analgesics such as acetaminophen to be used against cold and cough medication. A chemical variant of the compound is called dihydrocodeine, which has a higher therapeutic efficacy.
Codeine or dihydrocodeine, when consumed converts to morphine in the liver, with profound effects on the central nervous system. Morphine passes into the infant’s body through breastmilk and makes him drowsy causes diarrhea, and weakness due to the accumulation and slow breakdown in the infant’s developing liver. Codeine with breastfeeding is a definite no-no and should be completely avoided.
Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant that helps in mitigating mucus accumulation in the sinus and nasal passage . Sudafed and Zyrtec D are two brands containing pseudoephedrine. It has no adverse effects on breastfeeding babies but reduces the production of prolactin hormone in the mother (16), which leads to a decrease in milk production by 24% (17). The baby may be underfed, resulting in temporary malnutrition and general irritability due to hunger.
Phenylephrine is a decongestant that constricts the inflamed blood vessels and reduces stuffiness in the nose. Dayquil cold and flu contains phenylephrine, and has similar effects as pseudoephedrine. Though this hasn’t been extensively researched, it is believed to reduce milk production. The drug is not recommended as it may result in drowsiness in the infants (18).
5. Xylometazoline and oxymetazoline
The two common ingredients in nasal sprays are used to relieve stuffy and blocked nose through the constriction of inflamed blood vessels. There isn’t enough evidence on its safety for the mother and baby hence it is advised to stay away from these medications or consult a doctor (19).
If the baby shows side effects or displays an abrupt change in feeding or sleeping schedules, then take him to a doctor immediately.
If you are not sure of the safety of drugs, and do not want to take a risk, then go for natural remedies. They are safe for you and the baby too.
Home Remedies For Cold When Breastfeeding
Here are a few simple home remedies to get rid of cold and are completely safe for the mother and the breastfeeding infant.
- Steam inhalation: It is the best way to relieve head cold. Boil water in a deep dish and place it in front of you. Drape a towel over your head in a manner the steam does not escape. Inhale deeply for five minutes with 30-second breaks. You can do it any number of times in a day.
- Salt water gargles: Heat drinking water till it is lukewarm and add three pinches of salt. Take a large sip and gargle your throat for 15 seconds before expelling it. This is an ideal remedy for a sore and painful throat.
- Consume warm/hot liquids and food: Have hot stuff such as tea, chicken soup, and rice and milk porridge. Warm liquids prevent a chesty cough and cold. Warm foods loosen the phlegm, making breathing easier.
- Use wet wipes: If cold is accompanied by fever, then use wet wipes or damp cloth to bring down the temperature.
- Stay hydrated and rest: Drink plenty of water since water helps regulate body temperature and humidifies the mucus lining of the respiratory system.
Being cautious helps you wade through the cold. Cold medicines can help speed up the recovery but should only be consumed under medical supervision. Continue normal breastfeeding, since it is the safest and the best way to make your little one build immunity!
Is It Safe To Take Caffeine While Breastfeeding?
Giving in to all your food cravings can be an issue when you are breastfeeding because what goes into your diet goes into your breast milk too. Not all foods that you have may end up in the breast milk, but most do. Caffeine is one such food that is craved for by a lot of women. It is a part of many day-to-day foods that is debated upon for its safety and consumption when you are breastfeeding.
As per the guidelines from Medications and Mother’s Milk, caffeine falls under the Lactation Risk Category L2 (safer) category. It was classified as a ‘Maternal Medication Usually Compatible with Breastfeeding’ by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In fact, caffeine has been directly given as treatment for breathing problems in premature babies for years, that too in much higher amounts compared to what is found in the breastmilk! MomJunction helps you understand all about caffeine and breastfeeding, how much to take and when to avoid.
Does Caffeine Affect Breast Milk?
Yes, caffeine gets into breast milk! Once you drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine is rapidly absorbed into your blood, and diffuses passively across the epithelial layers of the mammary glands. But, very low levels (less than 1% of what is consumed) may end up in the breast milk and clinically significant amount of caffeine is not found. Caffeine appears in the milk within 15 minutes of intake, while the concentration levels would be at its peak after an hour (1).
Dr. SK Gambhir of Paras Bliss hospital in Delhi says that the effect on breast milk stays for a maximum of 120 minutes.
Are Babies Sensitive To Caffeine Intake Of Nursing Mother?
Some babies, especially those under six months of age, may be sensitive to mother’s caffeine intake. More reactions can be observed in nursing infants whose mothers entirely avoided caffeine during pregnancy (2).
Caffeine may get accumulated in breastfeeding babies if their mothers consume high amounts and can cause irritability, insomnia, and constipation. The accumulation is due to the inability of the baby’s body to break down and eliminate caffeine.
Newborns take more time to metabolize caffeine compared to older infants because of their immature liver and kidneys. Preterm or sick infants may also have problems because of their inability to metabolize caffeine.
|Age Group||Half Life (Hours)|
|Premature neonates (3-32 days)||102.9|
|Term neonates (0-4 days)||80.0|
|1-2 1/2 Months||26.3|
|3-4 1/2 Months||14.2|
*Half-Life is the time taken for a substance to become half inside a human body.
Even though babies show sensitivity to caffeine, it may disappear as they grow older. Babies will begin to process caffeine more efficiently at about three months of age (3), and it would become much easier over time. By the time the baby is nine months old, he would develop the ability to eliminate caffeine at the same rate as you do!
How Much Caffeine Can You Have While Breastfeeding?
According to Dr. SK Gambhir, a breastfeeding mother needs to limit her caffeine intake to less than 300mg a day.
An acceptable amount of caffeine while breastfeeding varies based on factors like baby’s health, age, and tolerance levels. Moreover, caffeine is diuretic and causes dehydration, and it is important to be hydrated particularly while nursing. Thus, it is advisable to limit caffeine consumption while breastfeeding with not more than two or three cups of tea, coffee, or caffeine beverage each day (4).
In the US, not more than 200mg caffeine a day is recommended for breastfeeding mothers. It comes to about two mugs of tea or one mug of filter coffee or two mugs of instant coffee, a day. NHS recommends that you have caffeine drinks occasionally, rather than every day, if your baby is young.
As per the Breastfeeding Answer Book, caffeine consumption of over 750 mg per day by nursing mothers may result in babies showing signs of caffeine stimulation, such as:
- less sleep hours
Ways To Decrease Caffeine Stimulation
If you observe signs of caffeine stimulation in your baby, avoid caffeine for two to three weeks and check the difference. Reintroduce to observe if the baby shows irritability.
Few ways to decrease caffeine stimulation are:
- Limiting the consumption of caffeine while nursing
- Spreading the coffee intake over the course of the day
- Breastfeeding before or after an hour of caffeine ingestion or pumping breast milk
- Monitoring the baby’s reaction when exposed or withdrawn from caffeine consumption
- Taking few glasses of water after caffeine consumption to dilute its effect in the body
**If you consider caffeine withdrawal as a way to soothe your fussy baby, make it happen gradually. Abrupt withdrawal may give you a headache, anxiety, fatigue, and depression.
Does Caffeine Decrease Breast Milk Supply?
No research or evidence supports the myth that caffeine decreases milk supply in nursing mothers. In fact, a study indicated that caffeine does not change breast milk composition, and rather, stimulates milk production (5). Even if the decreased milk supply is observed in few cases, it could be due to the decreased nursing of fussy babies, rather than the caffeine intake.
However, few studies suggests that the chronic caffeine ingestion could lessen the iron content in milk, which may lead to mild iron deficiency or anemia in some breastfed infants.
When Should Nursing Mothers Completely Avoid Caffeine?
If you are a nursing mother having a Raynaud’s phenomenon, a circulatory disorder, avoid caffeine. The condition is due to the constriction of blood vessels, which leads to lesser blood flow. It even affects your nipples and the constriction worsens with caffeine, ending up in painful breastfeeding.
Caffeine consumption may affect a nursing mother’s let-down reflex (the milk ejection reflex from the breasts), in case of nipple vasospasm.
What Are Different Caffeine Sources?
Caffeine can be found in:
- soft drinks
- sports, energy drinks
- few prescription medicines
- over-the-counter medications for cold, headache, and allergy remedies
- coffee ice cream
- herbal products containing kola nut/cola nitida, guarana/paullinea cupana, yerba mate, or green tea
Caffeine Content In Common Drinks
|Drinks||Caffeine Level (mg)|
|Coffee, Brewed(8 oz)||>80-135|
|Coffee, Instant(8 oz)||>65-100|
|Tea, iced(8 oz)||47|
|Tea, brewed, imported brands (avg.)(8 oz)||60|
|Tea, green(8 oz)||15|
|Hot cocoa(8 oz)||>14|
|Dark chocolate (1 oz)||>20 mg|
|Diet Coke(12 oz)||45.6|
|Red Bull (8.2 oz)||>80.0|
A nursing mother can enjoy caffeinated drinks and foods without any concern, as long as it is within a limit. In case the baby shows discomfort, it is better to seek a doctor’s advice and chalk out the caffeine consumption plans.
Q. What Can I Have Instead Of Caffeine Drinks?
A. A great option would be to have decaffeinated products like coffee free from caffeine, decaffeinated green tea, or herbal tea. You could also have flavored water with a slice of lime or lemon, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, no-added-sugar squashes. Instead of cocoa or hot chocolate rich in caffeine, go for a hot malt drink.
Q. How Many Cups Of Coffee Are Okay Each Day?
A. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not more than three cups daily, while La Leche League considers five cups of coffee while breastfeeding each day to be safe.
Q. How To Limit Caffeine Intake Through Coffee Or Tea?
A. Opting for espresso drinks like lattes or instant coffee, which have less caffeine than the regular brewed coffee would be better. Take a tea that is brewed for less time or tea bag steeped in water for a lesser time.
Q. Are Energy Drinks Containing Caffeine, Safer During Breastfeeding?
A. It is advisable to cut down on energy drinks altogether as they are loaded with caffeine.
Q. Is Coffee Bean Extract Safe For Nursing Mothers?
A. Green coffee bean extract is a herbal, homeopathic product helpful in lowering the blood pressure and body weight. Even though no study talks about the safety of the product for a breastfeeding mother, it is important to note few points before going ahead.
Green coffee bean extract contains caffeine if it comes in dosages of 43 mg, 93 mg, or 185 mg. The higher the dosage, the more the caffeine. Opt for low dosage product or avoid caffeine if your baby shows reactions against it.
Moms share your experiences about consuming caffeine during breastfeeding here. How addicted or not were you?
4 Amazingly Different Ways You Can Use Fenugreek During Your Lactation Period
Mommies, who are concerned about how to increase breast milk, need not worry, as Fenugreek can rescue you. Fenugreek has been used popularly as a spice of an herb for ages. It is known to induce labor and also assist in childbirth.
Fenugreek seeds can be a safe answer for you as well as your baby for increasing breast milk. How?
Fenugreek For Breast Milk Production:
When it comes to increasing your milk supply, it is always better to try the non-pharmaceutical measures first. The herbal medicines will have lesser side effects compared to the prescribed medicines to increase breast milk supply. Here we shall explore the link between fenugreek and breast milk production:
- Mothers should have noted that they find increase in milk production after 24-72 hours of taking fenugreek.
- You need to take around 3,500 mg of fenugreek in the form of pills, seeds or herb to see the effect. With regular intake, you can slowly find increase in your milk production. After some time, you can see your urine and sweat beginning to smell like maple syrup. You must try alternative methods, if in case you face any discomforts.
- Per Kathleen Huggins says, “Most mothers have found that the herb can be discontinued once milk production is stimulated to an appropriate level. Adequate production is usually maintained as long as sufficient breast stimulation and emptying continues.”
Different Ways You Can Use Fenugreek For Increasing Breast Milk:
Fenugreek can be taken in different ways during your lactation period. Here are some possibilities:
1. Tea: You can add around 3 teaspoons of fenugreek seeds in a cup of water and bring it to boil to make the tea. You can have this around three times a day.
2. Capsules: The seeds are available in the form of capsules as well. You need to consult your lactating doctor about the doses. You can begin with three capsules a day, and then increase it slowly till your urine smells like maple syrup.
3. Sprout The Seeds: This is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to take fenugreeks. Soak the seeds in a clean glass of water and do not disturb them for around 5 days. You can see the sprouts after few days. You can add them to your salad.
4. Fenugreek Powder: Fenugreek can be taken in the form of powder. You can mix a teaspoon of it with fruit juice and take them daily. Discontinue its use if you experience muscle cramps.
Be Careful Of The Side Effects:
You must consult with your herbal specialist or lactation doctor to know if your baby is exposed to any sorts of dangers when you take fenugreek daily. Here is a list of side effects that you should be careful while taking fenugreek for breast milk supply:
- Fenugreek seeds induce labor, and thus it is suggested that you avoid them in pregnancy.
- If you notice any allergic reactions, inform it to the doctor. You may be allergic to fenugreek if you have allergies from peanuts or soy.
- If you begin with heavy doses of fenugreek, it might lead to diarrhea. The herb also passes through your breast milk and your baby might develop diarrhea as well. Thus, it is important that you start with the small dose and then increase the intake slowly.
- See if your urine, sweat and breast milk smells like maple syrup. You must inform your baby’s doctor about your fenugreek intake.
- You must consult your doctor in case you feel you are not producing enough milk, despite trying different measures.
- Your lactating consultant may suggest you to take fenugreek to augment your milk supply.
- Make sure you are starting with a small dose to keep away the side effects.
- You must follow the advice of your doctor at every step. This will free your mind from all concerns like if you are harming your baby in any way.
Let us know if fenugreek helped you to augment your breast milk production in the comment section below.
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