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Can you take Theraflu while breastfeeding? [2023 Guide]

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Wondering if you can take Theraflu while breastfeeding? Here’s everything you need to know plus other helpful tips for sick and nursing moms!

If you’re a first time mom and breastfeeding, it’s especially challenging when you come down with a cold or the flu.

No one likes to deal with body aches, chest congestion, and coughing. But, it’s even worse when you’re responsible for the nourishment of a child.

Thankfully, it’s safe to continue breastfeeding while you’re sick, and it’s actually good for your baby if you do.

Breast milk passes your antibodies onto your baby which helps to build their immune system and prevent them from getting sick, too.

However, your breast milk can also pass along harmful substances to your baby if you’re not careful.

And that includes some medications.

You may think to reach for Theraflu to help manage your symptoms, but it is safe while breastfeeding?

Below, we’re sharing everything you need to know plus other tips to help you get better sooner!

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What is Theraflu?

A sick woman blows her nose while holding a white mug.

Before we discuss Theraflu and breastfeeding, here’s some information on what it is and how it works.

Theraflu is a flu medicine that treats common flu symptoms like low fever, cough, runny nose, and muscle soreness.

It comes in liquid powder, syrup, and capsule form.

There are various formulas that treat specific symptoms, but many people prefer the combination medicine.

This version includes a combination of three ingredients:

  • Acetaminophen relieves pain.
  • Dextromethorphan helps calm down coughs.
  • Phenylephrine clears out sinuses.

Acetaminophen is a common pain reliever and fever reducer. And it’s the same medicine found in Tylenol.

Dextromethorphan is a cough medicine that relaxes your brain and muscles, eliminating the persistent need to cough. 

Phenylephrine helps clear out a stuffy nose by helping reduce swelling in the sinuses. And it’s a common ingredient in allergy medications.

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Can you take Theraflu while breastfeeding?

A sick woman breastfeeding her baby while sitting in bed.

Theraflu is not believed to be harmful to babies if passed through breast milk. But, it’s not recommended for pregnant women.

If you choose to take cold or flu remedies, the amount that passes into your milk is usually very small and unlikely to affect your baby.

However, a breastfeeding mother should note a couple of adverse effects:

When in doubt, you should always seek medical advice from your doctor especially if you have certain medical conditions like high blood pressure.

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Other Breastfeeding-Safe Medications

A sick woman blows her nose while laying down and cradling her head.

Theraflu isn’t the only safe medication to take while breastfeeding.

Here are some other options to try and safer alternatives if you’re concerned about your milk supply.

First, the CDC recommends that postpartum (e.g., within 2 weeks after birth) women with suspected or confirmed flu be treated with antiviral medications since they are at high risk of flu complications.

These medicines actually treat the cause of the illness rather than just the symptoms. However, they do require a prescription.

No specific treatment exists for the cold virus, but you can take medications to relieve your symptoms.

Experts say topical decongestants like nasal sprays are less likely to make their way into breast milk so those are usually a safe option.

Some moms suggest using vapor rub brands made specifically for babies and children like Mama Earth or Zarbees.

And here are some other medication options that are approved by the FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics while breastfeeding:

Safe medicines to treat cold symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, cough, and nasal congestion:

  • Any throat lozenge or cough drops without menthol (or in moderation)
  • Nasal sprays like Ocean mist
  • Oral decongestants like Mucinex and Sudafed Cold and Cough
  • Cough suppressant medications like Robitussin and Robitussin DM

Safe medicines for headaches and muscle aches:

  • Tylenol, Extra Strength Tylenol, Tylenol PM
  • Acetaminophen

Safe allergy medications:

  • Nasal decongestant like Claritin
  • Benadryl
  • Clear Eyes
  • Loratadine

Medications and nipple creams for sore or Cracked Nipples:

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Natural Remedies

A mason jar filled with lemon tea with a woman laying in the background.

If you prefer not to use Theraflu or another cold medicine while breastfeeding, here are some natural remedies to try.

Steam inhalation or a neti pot is great for sinus infections and for relieving congestion.

And you can try honey and ginger tea or brothy soups to help soothe a sore throat.

You can also use a cold/hot compress for aches and pains, nasal strips, and saline drops.

And, be sure to drink lots of water, get plenty of rest, and up your Vitamin C intake.

Medications to Avoid While Breastfeeding

There are some medications that you should avoid while breastfeeding.

Here are some common no-nos according to the AAP:

  • Codeine (the active ingredient in Tuzistra, Demi-Cof, Dex-Tuss, and Tussirex) can accumulate in an infant’s system when a breastfeeding mom takes a normal dose. And it can cause dangerous side effects like trouble breathing or a slow heart rate.
  • You should also use products with Hydrocodone with caution. High levels of hydrocodone (found in Hysingla and Zohydro ER) are transferred to babies through breast milk.
  • Doses above 162 mg per day of Aspirin can cause high levels to accumulate in a baby’s system. (Lower doses may be safe.) Aspirin can also cause rashes or bleeding problems in babies.

It’s also important to pay attention to more than just the active ingredients in products.

Inactive ingredients often included in common cold medications, especially cough syrups may be harmful.

Many cough medicines include ethanol [i.e., alcohol], and those preparations should be avoided when breastfeeding.

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Tips for Taking Cold Medications While Breastfeeding

Torso shot of a woman breastfeeding a baby boy in blue shirt.

Here are some tips for taking Theraflu and other cold medications while breastfeeding to minimize the effects on your baby.

  • Plan to take your medicine right after you breastfeed. And wait at least two hours (if possible) before breastfeeding again.
  • You can also take a dose at night when your baby is more likely to skip a feeding or eat less. This will help reduce any side effects like drowsiness or irritability.
  • Don’t worry about pumping and dumping. This is an outdated practice and it won’t make a huge difference for your baby.
  • Add pumping sessions if your milk supply decreases. Milk production works on supply and demand, so the more milk you extract, the more milk your body will produce.
  • Avoid taking combo meds. Yes, Theraflu is a combo medication. But, each of the ingredients is generally safe for babies. This might not be the case for other medicines. And it may be hard to sort out what’s okay and not okay for your child.

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More Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms

Along with taking Theraflu or other breastfeeding-safe medications, you can use the tips below to make yourself more comfortable while you recover.

  • Use a nursing pillow to make breastfeeding sessions more comfortable.
  • Or, you can try different breastfeeding positions, like a laid-back position if you’re feeling really down.
  • Make sure your baby has a proper latch to avoid lipstick nipple and other breastfeeding complications that can exacerbate your already weakened immune system.
  • It’s very important for a nursing mom and those who are sick to stay hydrated. Keep a water mug or tumbler close by to ensure you get plenty of fluids.
  • Use a hands-free pump like the Elvie pump or a silicone Haakaa breast pump so you can collect milk with less effort.
  • Get your baby on a good sleeping schedule so you can get more rest.
  • Ask for help! Don’t try to do it all while you’re sick. If you have a good support system, don’t be afraid to use it!

And here are some other breastfeeding essentials to make life easier:

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FAQs

What cold medicine can you take while breastfeeding?


Breastfeeding moms can take:

– Any throat lozenge or cough drop without menthol
– Nasal sprays like Ocean Mist
– Mucinex
– Sudafed Cold and Cough
– Robitussin and Robitussin PM
– Tylenol, Extra Strength Tylenol, Tylenol PM
– Acetaminophen
– Claritin
– Benadryl
– Clear Eyes
– Loratadine
– Baby-safe vapor rubs Mama Earth or Zarbees

What can I take for Covid while breastfeeding?


If you have Covid symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, cough, and nasal congestion, you can take:

Any throat lozenge or cough drops without menthol (or in moderation)
– Nasal sprays like Ocean mist
– Oral decongestants like Mucinex and Sudafed Cold and Cough
– Cough suppressant medications like Robitussin and Robitussin DM

And if you’re experiencing headaches or muscle aches, you can take:

Tylenol, Extra Strength Tylenol, Tylenol PM
Acetaminophen

What can I take for a sore throat while breastfeeding?


If you have a sore throat while breastfeeding, you can use any throat lozenge or cough drops without menthol (or with menthol in moderation).

You can also take pain relievers with Acetaminophen like Tylenol, Extra Strength Tylenol, and Tylenol PM.

And you can use natural remedies like ginger or lemon tea and brothy soups.

What cough medicine can I take while breastfeeding?


It’s safe to take oral decongestants like Mucinex and Sudafed Cold and Cough. And you can take cough suppressant medicines like Robitussin and Robitussin DM.

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The Bottom Line

A sick woman blows her nose while sitting under a blue blanket.

Here’s the bottom line on taking Theraflu while breastfeeding:

  • Theraflu is generally considered safe for the breastfeeding mom. However, you should consult with your healthcare provider, especially if you require medical help for conditions like high blood pressure.
  • Theraflu may cause possible side effects like decreased milk supply and temporary drowsiness for the baby. If you already suffer from milk supply problems, Theraflu may not be the best option.
  • However, you can minimize adverse effects on your baby by practicing the following:
    • Plan to take your medicine right after you breastfeed and try to wait at least 2 hours until your next nursing session.
    • Take a dose at night when your baby may have fewer feedings.
    • Add extra pumping sessions if you notice a decrease in milk supply.
  • If you prefer not to take Theraflu you can try other medications and cold remedies like:
    • Any throat lozenge or cough drop without menthol (or with menthol in moderation)
    • Nasal sprays like Ocean Mist
    • Mucinex
    • Sudafed Cold and Cough
    • Robitussin and Robitussin PM
    • Tylenol, Extra Strength Tylenol, Tylenol PM
    • Acetaminophen
    • Claritin
    • Benadryl
    • Clear Eyes
    • Loratadine
    • Baby-safe vapor rubs Mama Earth or Zarbees
    • Steam inhalation
    • Neti pot 
    • Honey and ginger tea or brothy soups
    • A cold/hot compress
    • Nasal strips
    • Saline drops.
    • Vitamin C
  • Avoid medications with Codeine, ethanol, and high doses of Hydrocodone or Aspirin.

Want More?

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Your Turn

Did we answer all your questions about taking Theraflu while breastfeeding? Let us know if we missed anything in the comments!

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