Dayquil and Breastfeeding

When you get sick while breastfeeding, choosing which medications to take can be daunting. What is safe for your baby? Can you take flu medications? Cold medications? How about Dayquil? Breastfeeding means taking the best care of your baby, but some medications might affect your milk supply and in turn, actually make your breast milk unsafe for your child. Here’s what you need to know about over the counter drugs, especially Dayquil, and breastfeeding.

Can I Take Dayquil While Breastfeeding?

When women are feeling sick with the cold or flu, they often turn to Dayquil. Breastfeeding moms might wonder – understandably so – if this is a good idea. Dayquil comes in many formulations to combat the common cold or flu.

To figure out what you can take while breastfeeding, you must know the active ingredients. In Dayquil, these are:

  • Dayquil Sinex (acetaminophen, phenylephrine, or oxymetazoline)
  • DayQuil Cough (dextromethorphan)
  • DayQuil Mucus Control DM (dextromethorphan and guaifenesin)
  • DayQuil Cold & Flu (acetaminophen, dextromethorphan and phenylephrine)
  • DayQuil Severe Cold & Flu (acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, guaifenesin and phenylephrine)

So is it safe to use Dayquil? Breastfeeding mothers might not like the answer: It depends! The label says to use with caution if you are pregnant, nursing, or considering becoming pregnant. However, it might be safe in breast milk, depending upon the health, age and size of your child. Speaking with a doctor and lactation consultant can ease your concerns and tell you, once and for all, whether you can use Dayquil while you breastfeed.

However, there are some times when you should definitely not use these drugs. This includes if you have ever had an allergic reaction to any of the active ingredients, if you have high blood pressure, vessel disease, or rapid heartbeat, or if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor or furazolidone within the last two weeks.

Magic Cures for Cold During Breastfeeding

Not sure about using Dayquil? Breastfeeding moms might find that they prefer to do something more natural before turning to drugs that could end up in their breast milk. In general, you can combat colds and the flu during breastfeeding by getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of water, and taking warm baths to soothe your body. Use a humidifier, especially at night, and load up on vitamin C. You can try certain foods to help, such as garlic and orange juice.

Here are a few other tips:

  • Use steam treatments. Boil a pot of water, set it on the counter or table, and add a few drops of essential oils to clear the head, such as eucalyptus or sage. Drape a bath towel over your head and lean over, so that you are trapping the steam underneath the towel. Breathe deeply for several minutes. You can also inhale the steam of apple cider vinegar in the same way, to get some relief.
  • Use a Neti pot. These pots use only saline water to clear nasal blockage, which makes it perfectly safe for a nursing mother to use. Follow the instructions on the package carefully, and don’t add anything but water to the pot unless you have been directed to do so by your physician.
  • Drink something warm. The heat from certain liquids can permeate your body and open up your sinuses, making you feel better immediately. Hot tea, warm apple juice, and chicken soup are common ways to help. In fact, chicken soup might have additional benefits, so drink up all of that broth!
  • Gargle with salt water. Some people find that one tablespoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water, gargled several times per day, can help you break up mucus and make it easier to breathe.
  • Use ginger. This has been used for centuries to make people feel better during all sorts of ailments, and it’s perfectly safe for breastfeeding. Use fresh ginger root to make tea, flavored with a spoonful of honey. You can also use ginger in store-bought tea, making sure that the mixture is hot to get the best effects.
  • Add more moisture. Use a cool mist humidifier to add more moisture to the air. This can help your coughs become more productive, which gets you over the flu or cold much faster. Change the water daily, and add in a few drops of essential oils if you like.

Other Drugs Safe and Unsafe to Use While Breastfeeding

Which drugs are safe to use? This chart shows drugs are proven safe to use:


Brand Name




Pain relief


Mylanta or Maalox

Stomach upset

Nasal sprays


Stuffed nose



Allergies and stuffy nose


Advil or Motrin

Pain relief



Allergies or hay fever




There might be other drugs that can be used, but aren’t on this chart. Those drugs have the potential to affect your baby, but there isn’t any hard evidence that shows they are safe or not. Keep in mind that some medications, such as Benadryl, that you might normally reach for during cold season can have side effects for your baby, including drowsiness. Others might inhibit the amount of breast milk you can create. See the complete list here.

Here are more general guidelines for breastfeeding while sick. Besides Dayquil, breastfeeding mothers can reach for medications if they pay attention to these points:

  • Only take medications if you really need them. Try home remedies first.
  • Never exceed the highest dosage; in fact, take the lowest dosage possible.
  • Do not take medications for an extended period of time.
  • Monitor your baby closely for any signs of side effects or allergic reactions from your breast milk after you take a drug.
  • Avoid drugs that have a slow-release formula.
  • Schedule your doses so that you take them right after a feeding, leading to your baby getting less of the drug at the next feeding.
  • If you absolutely must take medication that is not good for your baby, invest in a breast pump and pump your milk until you are off the medication; then you can resume breastfeeding with no worries for your child. 
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