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Safe Cold Medicine While Breastfeeding

Administering safe cold medicine while breastfeeding is imperative, as a specific amount of the ingested medicine is passed to the baby via the mother's milk. Continue reading this article to learn about the best or low risk cold medicine to be taken while breastfeeding.
AptParenting Staff
After giving birth to a healthy baby, a new mom gets herself busy in nursing and caring for the little angel. Becoming a mother brings certain changes that a woman needs to understand fully for the sake of her baby's health and well-being. We all have come across the negative effects of cigarette smoking and drinking excess alcohol while breastfeeding. But, not many of us think twice about popping a cold medicine while breastfeeding, which is very strange. Scroll down to learn about safe cold medicine for breastfeeding mothers.

Cold Medicine and Lactating

The responsibility of a mother doesn't end with breastfeeding the baby, every time the baby calls for it. In fact, she needs to plan her diet and follow a healthy eating habit. Whatever she eats or drinks passes to the baby (in trace amounts) through the breast milk. The same is applicable to drug or medicine intake. Thus, even if she suffers from common cold or a terrible headache, she should not take an over-the-counter medicine to relieve the discomfort symptoms, until and unless the doctor advises her to do so. As per medical researches, about 1 percent of the medication dose reaches the baby.

A small dose of cold medicine for an adult can cause severe adverse effects to a newborn. This is because of the developing immune system and body parts of small babies. In addition, some of the ingested drugs negatively affect the milk production. Hence, it is of utmost importance to outweigh the benefits of taking cold medicine while breastfeeding and the effects that it can have in the baby. The point is not to take a cold medicine or drug, unless it is absolutely necessary for the mother. If possible, rely on home remedies like steam inhalation, saltwater gargle and drinking herbal tea for management of common cold symptoms.

Administering the best cold medicine to a mother who is still breastfeeding is not so easy as it sounds. After all the mother needs to conduct a thorough research about the ingredients of the drugs, their safety dosage and side effects (if any). If, given an option, short acting drugs should be preferred over long acting medical formulations. Though, they require frequent intake per day, such therapeutic formulation have a shorter clearing time, and leave the system within a short time. Also, these drugs rarely accumulate in the baby's system.

Most medicines for cold are created with several ingredients to treat multiple symptoms. As far as possible, avoid these combination drugs and medications, and choose medicines that are specific for a particular discomfort symptom. Instead of taking oral medications for nasal congestion, go for vapor rubs, steam therapy and nasal sprays. As they are not taken orally, these medicines do not secrete in the milk or reach the baby. When compared to oral cold medicine, nasal drops and throat lozenges are safer alternatives.

Coming to administration of safe cold medicine while breastfeeding, some therapeutic formulations are safer for a lactating mother than others. The expectorant medicines (examples, Robitussin and Hytuss) containing guaifenesin as its active ingredient are safe for use by breastfeeding women. Similarly, acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) is good for combating pain symptom, while dextromethorphan (e.g. Scot-Tussin) is an effective cough suppressant for lactating mothers.

After ingestion of the medication, the active ingredients are not released in the body parts or breast milk instantly. In short, it takes some time for the medicine to circulate in the body parts. Similarly, it retains in the body for a specific period after administration, which is discussed as the clearing time of the drug. For safety purposes, the doctor may suggest timing the dosage of cold medicine for a still nursing mother. This simple approach is taken up to minimize the effects of cold medicine on the baby.

Most probably, the doctor recommends the intake of the cold medicine right after feeding the baby, with an objective to minimize drug dose to the baby. In case of unavoidable cases wherein taking cold medicine becomes a necessity, alternative feeding methods can be adopted to reduce the effects of the drug on the baby.