Health Library
Health Library

    Can You Take Cold Medicine While Breastfeeding? A List of Safe Cold Medicine While Nursing

    Updated 13 February 2022 |
    Published 26 December 2018
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Kate Shkodzik, MD, Obstetrician and gynecologist
    Flo Fact-Checking Standards

    Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

    Finding cold medicine for breastfeeding moms is not that easy, because there are certain limitations to follow. Find out how to choose the right cold medicine while breastfeeding in our fresh article! Always speak to your doctor before taking any new medications or natural remedies.

    Can you take cold medicine while breastfeeding?

    Yes, some safe cold medicines to take while breastfeeding include:

    • cough & sore throat medicines
    • fever, inflammation and pain medicines during cold or flu
    • pain meds for cold
    • an antibiotic for cold — amoxicillin
    • antihistamines

    Take a quiz

    Find out what you can do with our Health Assistant

    The dangers of medicine while nursing

    Many drugs/medicines are unsafe to be taken while nursing. Some of them have been discussed below:

    1. Cold and flu medications containing phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine are not recommended. Pseudoephedrine can lower the amount of breastmilk a woman’s body can make.
    2. A pain-killing drug known as Codeine can infant drowsiness, central nervous system depression, and even death.
    3. Aspirin is not recommended due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome. 
    4. Potent medicines or medications that travel into breast milk in large amounts should be avoided during breastfeeding. These medications contain cytotoxic agents which are used for cancer treatment — as those used in chemotherapy and can act as immunosuppressants causing suppression of the immune system in babies.
    5. Social drugs like nicotine and ethanol should be avoided as these can cause irritability and restlessness
    6. Medicines like Sulphasalazine should be avoided 
    7. Drugs like tetracyclines should be avoided where feasible due to the possible dangers of dental staining and negative effects on bone development.
    8. Acid-suppressants like Cimetidine have some side effects in babies. So, these should be avoided during nursing.

    What cold medicine can you take while breastfeeding?

    1. Acetaminophen
    2. Dextromethorphan 
    3. Guaifenesin 
    4. Ibuprofen

    Unsafe cold meds while breastfeeding

    Cold medicine and breastfeeding have to be considered with utmost care. Following are the cold medicines that you should definitely avoid when breastfeeding:

    1. Aspirin
    2. Pseudoephedrine
    3. Codeine 
    4. Phenylephrine

    Being cautious and careful ensures you wade through the cold. Cold medications and drugs can make the recovery fast but should only be taken under medical supervision. You should continue normal breastfeeding, as it is the most effective, safest and the best method to make your baby build immunity!

    Always remember to contact your doctor or your baby's pediatrician for advice before taking any medications while breastfeeding! This way, you minimize the risks of possible complications.


    Bar-Oz, B., Bulkowstein, M., Benyamini, L., Greenberg, R., Soriano, I., Zimmerman, D., ... & Berkovitch, M. (2003). Use of antibiotic and analgesic drugs during lactation. Drug safety, 26(13), 925-935. Burkey, B. W., & Holmes, A. P. (2013). Evaluating medication use in pregnancy and lactation: what every pharmacist should know. The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 18(3), 247-258. Chaves, R. G., & Lamounier, J. A. (2004). Breastfeeding and maternal medications. Jornal de pediatria, 80(5), s189-s198. Eastman, C. J. (2016). Iodine in breastfeeding. Australian prescriber, 39(1), 4. Henderson, A. (2003). Safe prescribing practices in pregnancy and lactation. Journal of midwifery & women's health, 48(2), 162-162. Hotham, N., & Hotham, E. (2015). Drugs in breastfeeding. Australian prescriber, 38(5), 156. Ilett, K. F., & Kristensen, J. H. (2005). Drug use and breastfeeding. Expert opinion on drug safety, 4(4), 745-768. Jones, W. (2012). Question from practice: How to treat a cold while breastfeeding. The Pharmaceutical Journal, 288, 37. Mathew, J. L. (2004). Effect of maternal antibiotics on breast feeding infants. Postgraduate medical journal, 80(942), 196-200. Moretti, M. E., Lee, A., & Ito, S. (2000). Which drugs are contraindicated during breastfeeding? Practice guidelines. Canadian Family Physician, 46(9), 1753-1757. Schirm, E., Schwagermann, M. P., Tobi, H., & de Jong-van den Berg, L. T. W. (2004). Drug use during breastfeeding. A survey from the Netherlands. European journal of clinical nutrition, 58(2), 386. Wang, J., Johnson, T., Sahin, L., Tassinari, M. S., Anderson, P. O., Baker, T. E., ... & Johnson‐Lyles, D. (2017). Evaluation of the safety of drugs and biological products used during lactation: workshop summary. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 101(6), 736-744.

    History of updates

    Current version (13 February 2022)

    Reviewed by Kate Shkodzik, MD, Obstetrician and gynecologist

    Published (26 December 2018)

    In this article

      Try Flo today