As a breastfeeding mom, it can be hard to find trustworthy answers to your questions about breastfeeding and medication. In this ongoing series, “Know Your Meds,” we’ll include current research and helpful information on a number of medications so that you can make informed, safe decisions during breastfeeding. This post covers Sudafed and breastfeeding, and addresses the factors you’ll be weighing when deciding whether or not to take this decongestant.
What is Sudafed?
Sudafed is a decongestant. It works by narrowing the blood vessels to decrease swelling and congestion. While no prescription is required to purchase Sudafed, Sudafed is kept behind the pharmacy counter and purchase is restricted to limited quantities due to its use as a cutting agent in methamphetamine production.
Other common names for this medication include:
- Pseudoephedrine (generic name)
- Sudafed Congestion, Sudafed 12-Hour, SudoGest, Sudafed 24-Hour
Can I Take Pseudoephedrine While Breastfeeding?
Avoid. While this medication has not been shown to be harmful to the nursing infant, according to the LactMed drug and lactation database, “Mothers with newborns whose lactation is not yet well established or mothers who are having difficulties producing sufficient milk should not receive pseudoephedrine.” In studies, pseudoephedrine acutely reduced mothers’ milk supply by an average of almost 25% after a single dose. Breastfeeding moms are wise to steer clear of pseudoephedrine containing products such as Sudafed, and oral decongestants in general. Be mindful that these products are designed to dry you up.
So what’s an uncomfortably stuffed-up nursing mom to do? Try steam, a humidifier, or a neti pot. See this Healthline article for other holistic ways to reduce congestion and sinus pressure. If you choose to use medication, consider a targeted nasal-spray containing oxymetazoline, which is not considered harmful to the baby and will not dry up your milk supply.
These questions from KellyMom can help you decide whether or not to take a medication as a breastfeeding mom:
- Does the mother need this medication right now, or is it something she can easily postpone until the baby is older?
- How old is the breastfeeding child?
- Is the breastfeeding child healthy?
- Is the medication in question one with a record of being safely given directly to babies and young children?
If you have further questions about using Sudafed while breastfeeding, you can call the Infant Risk Center at 1-806-352-2519 or speak with your physician or other relevant care provider.