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Your Guide To Breast/Chestfeeding While Sick: Supportive And Preventative Care

As we move into winter and temperatures drop, people seek the warmth of indoor spaces. These changes in temperatures and enclosed (often poorly ventilated) indoor spaces help viruses spread from person to person. Because of that, it's almost inevitable that at some point during your feeding journey, you will catch a cold or the flu. When the lactating parent is sick, there can be a lot of confusion about what they can or cannot take. Sometimes well-intended providers offer advice that can potentially jeopardize the lactating parent's milk supply. Let's take a deeper dive into what medications you should avoid when you're sick and what alternative methods are available to ease the symptoms.


Nasal and head congestion can be pretty miserable at times, and most people tend to want to take an oral decongestant. DO NOT! Decongestants and antihistamines dry up all mucous membranes throughout the body and can also affect your milk supply.

Decongestants include:

Pseudoephedrine (such as in Sudafed)

Phenylephrine (such as in Benylin or Sudafed PE)

Oxymetazoline (such as in Claritin or Drixoral

Benadryl (diphenhydramine)

Alternative Methods:

- Use a Saline Nasal spray.

- Use a Neti Pot or do sinus rinses.

- Take a hot steamy shower or use a cold mist humidifier to help break up the congestion

- Use some eucalyptus oil on the floor of your shower or a small amount on your chest while showering.

-Drink warm teas or broths.

Sore throat/Cough:

-Drink warm water with honey and lemon.

-Take a spoonful of honey before bedtime.

- Gargle salt water: Mix 1 tbsp of salt with 8 ounces warm water.

- Look for zinc, Manuka Honey or colloidal silver lozenges. I like American Biotech Labs - Silver Biotics brand.

-Propolis Throat Spray has antimicrobial properties and may help ease a sore throat faster. I like the Beekeeper's Naturals - Propolis spray.

-Robitussin and Delysm are considered compatible with breast/chestfeeding but always check and make sure that they don't include other ingredients that are not.


-Fever and pain reducing medications such as Tylenol, Advil and Ibuprofen for adults are considered compatible with breast/chestfeeding.

- Cold washcloths to the forehead for headaches and/or a dark quiet room to rest up.

Supportive Care:

-Get plenty of rest

-Drink lots of fluids and eat when hungry

-Ask for help! Being sick is a way your body is telling you it needs to rest and recharge

-Vitamin C

-Vitamin D (ask your provider for specific dosing information)


Preventive Care:

-Getting plenty of sleep

-Trying to minimize life stressors

-Being active or exercising

-Taking a prenatal vitamin or multivitamin daily

-Taking Vitamin C

-Vitamin D (ask your provider for specific dosing information)

-Zinc (ask your provider for specific dosing information)

-Elderberry Syrup. I love making this on my own using this recipe. If you have a baby under one, you can substitute maple syrup for the honey.

-Mushrooms for immune support! I love this website that talks all about the different kinds of mushrooms and their health benefits. 14 Medicinal Mushrooms That Are Safe to take while Pregnant or Breastfeeding and also Four Sigmatic makes coffee and caffeine free drinks that have immune support from mushrooms such as Lions Mane, Chaga and Cordecyps.

The Takeaway:

We are all going to get sick from time to time. It's a part of life. We can do somethings like taking supplements and making lifestyle changes to try and prevent sickness, but if you find yourself sick, I hope this blog helps to alleviate stress about what you can take and do to alleviate symptoms while sick. When in doubt, consult with your provider with questions or concerns or reach out to your local IBCLC with questions specific to breast/chestfeeding and managing symptoms associated with sickness.




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