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How to Cure a Cold While Nursing

by Hillary Marshall, studioD

There is no cure for the common cold, but there are medications you can take to alleviate it; in other words, to lessen its severity. Nursing moms often worry that the medications they ingest will pass through to their breast milk. However; take heart: there are medications nursing moms can take to safely relieve cold symptoms, according to OB/GYN Carl Weiner and author of "Drugs for Pregnant and Lactating Women," writing for BabyCenter. Combine those medications with some comfort care and you will be feeling better before you know it.

Take an over-the-counter decongestant. Dr. Weiner advises women to avoid cold medicines that contain several drugs in one dose capsule or liquid. Instead, try a straight decongestant like pseudoephedrine. Less than one percent of pseudoephedrine ends up in breast milk.

Take a cough suppressant to ease your cough. Dr. Weiner suggests using dextromethorphan, which has long been considered safe for use while breastfeeding.

Treat aches and pains with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. According to the LactMed database on BabyCenter.com, both are considered to be safe in regular doses.

Use a vaporizer to moisten your airways. Avoid adding any menthol products to your vaporizer as they may irritate your baby’s nasal passages.

Clear your sinuses with a neti pot, filled with warm saline water. Pour the water in one nostril with your head tilted and the warm saline comes out the other nostril. The saline helps clear blocked congestion by thinning secretions. You can also use saline nasal drops or spray.

Take a zinc supplement. Dr. Thomas Hale, Ph.D., of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center suggests using a zinc supplement that comes in a nasal spray. Growing babies need zinc so as long as you keep your dosing below 50 mg a day, it shouldn’t have an adverse affect on your baby. Dr. Hale recommends that nursing mothers take between 12 and 15 mg daily.

Make sure you are getting enough vitamin C. Too much or too little vitamin C can be harmful to you and your baby. Mothers who are nursing should consume 120 mg of vitamin C daily, according to Dr. Hale.

Get plenty of rest. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water, which helps keeps your congestion thin.

Eat chicken soup, which acts as an anti-inflammatory and it speeds up the movement of congestion, according to Mayo Clinic.

Gargle with salt water to ease a sore throat. Mix 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water.

Items you will need
  •  Pseudoephedrine
  •  Dextromethorphan
  •  Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen
  •  Vaporizer
  •  Neti pot
  •  Zinc
  •  Vitamin C


  • Dr. Weiner suggests that if possible, breastfeeding women should avoid the use of antihistamines and decongestants. These drugs can reduce your milk supply; however, women with an established milk supply are unlikely to experience this problem.
  • Breastfeeding women should avoid taking Siberian Ginseng and Andrographis, advises Dr. Hale. These herbal supplements are sometimes recommended for colds and are found in some homeopathic cold remedies.

About the Author

Hillary Marshall has been writing professionally since 2006. Before writing instructional articles online, she worked as a copywriter and has been published in "Ideal Living" "Sass" "Science Edge" and "Shopping Cents" magazines along with countless websites including Gadling a blog by the Huffington post. Marshall studied early childhood education at the Stratford Career Institute.

Photo Credits

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