Allergy season is upon us, and many of you may suffer from nasal congestion, itchy eyes, sinus pressure, and headaches. If you’re a breastfeeding mother, you may feel at a loss for what to do to manage these annoying symptoms. We will help you understand what your options are, what’s safe, and how to find relief quickly and effectively.
Things to Consider
The common cold usually lasts around one to two weeks. Seasonal allergies, however, often linger around or reappear throughout the year. These symptoms can be taxing and negatively impact a mother’s desire to breastfeed.
Various remedies are compatible with breastfeeding. An important thing to consider is what symptoms you are suffering from. You want to treat the individual symptom and avoid combination medications whenever possible.
Vitamin C boosts the immune system and also acts as a natural antihistamine. According to a 2018 study looking at its use in treating allergies, Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. The study concluded that high doses of intravenous vitamin C reduced allergy symptoms.
You can take in extra vitamin C from foods such as:
- Citrus fruits (lemon, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi)
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts)
- Bell peppers
- Cantaloupe melon
- White potatoes
Probiotics offer health benefits by helping the body maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Probiotics can boost your immune system, assisting your body in fighting off allergies and cold symptoms.
As with any time you feel your body is fighting something, remember to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. Use a humidifier in your home, especially your bedroom.
Many allergy medications are considered safe to use while breastfeeding and should not impact your milk supply or infant.
If you find yourself sick and needing to take medications that could affect your breastmilk, you want to consult your doctor about which medications you are taking. If you cannot speak to a physician before taking the drug, you can pump and store your milk in a separate area until you have a chance to talk with them.
Please seek help from your doctor or book an appointment at Mercy Grace to receive the guidance you need.
All antihistamines are considered safe to use during breastfeeding, as minimal amounts are excreted in the breast milk and would not cause any adverse effects.
Numerous trials and research support that Zyrtec (cetirizine) is one of the preferred second-generation (non-drowsy) antihistamines while breastfeeding.
First-generation antihistamines with side effects that make you drowsy, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), may decrease milk supply if used in high doses for extended periods.
These include eye drops that help with itchy, watery eyes, such as Zaditor (ketotifen).
Nasal drainage can be addressed with a nasal saline rinse which flushes out allergens from your nasal passages.
Flonase is a steroid nasal spray that can help with sinus pressure and congestion.
Pseudoephedrine like Sudafed and phenylephrine such as Sudafed PE are generally considered to be safe for breastfed babies. However, we should note that some evidence indicates pseudoephedrine may reduce the mother’s milk supply.
Headaches are a symptom that can present during both colds and allergy season.
Tylenol (acetaminophen) is a safe choice for mother and baby and can relieve mild to moderate headaches and body aches.
For more intense headaches, use Motrin (ibuprofen), which helps address pain and inflammation. This medication is metabolized quickly and is eliminated from breastmilk quickly.
Reducing Transference to Your Breastmilk
To avoid medication or treatments from entering the bloodstream, you should aim to treat the symptom locally, whenever possible. By that, we mean applying the medication directly to the area that needs treatment. For example, use eye drops for itchy eyes or nasal spray for nasal congestion.
Administer your medication immediately AFTER nursing your baby or before your baby’s most extended sleep period to minimize the amount of medication in your milk.
Use the lowest advisable dosage possible to treat your symptoms.
Remember to pump and discard your milk if you only take medications for a few days.
Please read the ingredients label on your medications, ask your pharmacist for guidance if you are unsure, or consult your doctor.