Updated on January 21, 2016
Sick and Breastfeeding? Eight Tips For Getting Relief
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You want to know what’s worse than being sick over the holidays? Being sick over the holidays and not being able to take anything for some relief! Such is the plight of breastfeeding moms everywhere. Maybe you thought all those restrictions on cold medications were lifted as soon as that baby was on the outside? Sadly, this is not the case. So what’s a breastfeeding mom to do? How can you get some relief from your cold symptoms without affecting your child or your milk supply? Thankfully, there are some things you can do to get a little relief that are safe for your child and won’t dry up your milk! Hooray! Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor, so I’d recommend you check with your own health care provider before taking any medication while breastfeeding. Are you ready to get some relief from that cold? Me too!
1. Keep breastfeeding! Okay, so this isn’t actually going to do anything to help you kick your cold, but it’s a question I’ve heard a lot. You’ve got a cold, a stomach bug, a fever, the flu, or even food poisoning, and you’re just not sure if it’s still safe to breastfeed your child during this time. Not only is it safe to continue breastfeeding when you’re sick, it’s actually recommended. Why? Your breastmilk will be carrying antibodies to protect your child from whatever it is that caused you to fall ill. That’s right. Your breastmilk changes for the better when you’re sick. Even before you feel any of the symptoms of whatever illness you’re about to come down with, your body knows it’s coming and it kicks into action right away. By the time you’re feeling all those glorious symptoms, your breastmilk is already flowing with antibodies to protect your child from whatever you’ve got. Pretty amazing. There’s no guarantee that your child won’t catch your illness, but if he does, he should have a less severe form of it because he’s been protected by those antibodies in your breastmilk.
2. The Neti-Pot. Have you ever used the fabulous device known as a Neti-Pot? This is the biggest tool in my cold defeating arsenal. What is it? It’s basically a little tea pot that you fill with a saline solution and then pour up your nose. I know, I know, it sounds awful, but I assure you that it’s amazing. It runs that saline solution up one nostril and through your sinuses and then out your other nostril. Why do you want to do this? Because it helps to clear out congestion from your sinuses. When you can’t take a decongestant (because it can dry up your milk supply and may pass through your milk to your child), the Neti-Pot is a great way to (temporarily) reduce congestion. You’re going to want to buy distilled water to use with your Neti-Pot, but it’s a very small price to pay for the relief you’re going to get. You can buy a Neti-Pot at almost all drugstores, or online HERE.
3. Breathe Right Nasal Strips. If the Neti-Pot just isn’t something you can wrap your head around (or even if it is), these nasal strips are wonderful overnight. They stick right onto your nose and gently pull the nasal passage open from the outside. When you’ve got nasal congestion, anything that opens your nasal passages even just a little bit is a beautiful thing. Breathe Right Nasal Strips can be found at the drugstore, or online HERE.
4. Hot Lemon with Honey. This is one of my favourite things to drink when I’ve got a cold. Not only is it soothing on a sore throat, but it also helps keep you hydrated. I don’t know what it is about having a cold, but I find I just don’t want to drink cold beverages. Because there’s no caffeine in a hot lemon with honey, it doesn’t act as a diuretic, so drink up! I make it with the juice of half a lemon, and a tablespoon or so of honey (or more if the lemon is particularly sour).
5. Take a warm bath. A nice hot bath is a good thing anytime, but especially when you’re sick. Keep the bathroom door closed so all the steam accumulates in the bathroom, throw on your favourite podcast or Songza playlist, and relax. You’re feeling better just thinking about it, aren’t you?
6. Take Tylenol or Advil. Regular Tylenol (acetaminophen) and regular Advil (ibuprofen) are both safe to take when breastfeeding. If you’ve got aches and pains, a fever and chills, a pounding headache, a sore throat, or other discomforts that come with a cold or flu, you can take tylenol or advil for some relief.
7. Use a Cold Mist Humidifier. The odds are good you have one of these in the house to use when your child gets a cold (and if you don’t have one, you need one!), but there’s no reason you can’t make use of it when you’re sick too! Increasing the humidity in your room (especially overnight) really does make breathing easier when you’re all congested. If you don’t have a cold mist humidifier yet, you can order one online HERE.
8. Salt Water Gargle. If you’ve got a sore throat and you’d like some quick relief, a salt water gargle might be just the trick. Dissolve one tablespoon of salt in one cup of warm water, and gargle it several times a day. Whatever you do, DON’T SWALLOW IT.
You might have noticed that I didn’t include throat lozenges/cough drops on this list. There’s good reason for that. Most throat lozenges/cough drops contain menthol, and menthol can reduce your milk supply (much like mint/peppermint) so it’s best to avoid them when you’re breastfeeding.
Have you survived a nasty cold when breastfeeding? What tips would you add to this list?