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Taking Cold Medicine While Breastfeeding Can Impact Milk Supply

When cold and flu season starts, most people tend to rush out to the store in order to stock up on necessary items such as Sudafed, Hall’s cough drops and black elderberry syrup without even thinking twice about it. However, some new moms—especially those that are breastfeeding—can be hesitant to run out to pick up cold medications because they have heard either from their doctor, friends, relatives or read online that they need to be careful in terms of what they can eat.

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In an interview with Woman's Health, Anna Graseck, MD MSCI and who works as an assistant professor in the clinical obstetrics and gynecology department at the University of Pennsylvania, says that in general, new mothers don’t have to worry because cold medications won’t negatively affect the health of mom or baby.

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The only thing breastfeeding moms should keep in mind when they feel a cold coming on and reach for the over-the-counter medications is that there is a chance that they can mess with one’s milk supply, depending on what the ingredients are. Dr. Graseck says that if a cold relief item has decongestants with the ingredients pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine can decrease a new mom’s milk supply, so for those that want to be safe rather than sorry, it is probably best to avoid things like Sudafed.

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Moms that are nearing the end of the breastfeeding phase either because their baby is about nine months old or little ones that only feed every once in a while seem to be the most susceptible to decongestants drying out their milk supply.

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That being said, it is perfectly safe to take something like Nyquil or Sudafed if a new mom is feeling icky and can’t get much sleep because the decongestants only dry out a woman’s milk supply; they don’t affect the milk itself or enter the milk and get passed to the baby. While breastfeeding moms can take cold medications with decongestants, it is up to each individual woman to weigh the pros and cons before taking the item to ease the icky feeling in their body.

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