Safe Breastfeeding | Can I Take Mucinex While Breastfeeding?
When you’re breastfeeding, this doesn’t mean that you can’t occasionally get sick. If you experience a cold or even the flu and you need a decongestant, it’s tempting to take something reputable such as Mucinex, but is that really a smart thing to do? You already know that you have to be careful what you take when you’re breastfeeding, but fortunately it’s safe to take Mucinex.
What Is Mucinex?
Mucinex is an expectorant medication that gets rid of cold and flu symptoms and loosens mucus so you can breathe better. It is an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine that can get rid of headaches, chest congestion, body aches and pains, sore throats, and even sinus pain and pressure. The main ingredient in Mucinex is guaifenesin, and you can buy it as a tablet, liquid, dissolving granules, and gel capsules.
Mucinex offers both night and day formulas, but while many of them contain only guaifenesin, others can also contain acetaminophen, pseudoephedrine, or dextromethorphan. This is important to know because with most of these ingredients, there is a limit on how much you can take per day. If you take Mucinex with acetaminophen in it and you also take Tylenol that day, you may be overdoing it.
The bottom line is that you should read your labels so you can know what you’re taking, and you should always talk to your doctor first before taking anything. This includes prescription medications, OTC medications, vitamins, and even herbal supplements. Some of these are not regulated; therefore, you’ll need a doctor’s help to decide what is safe and what isn’t.
How Safe Is Mucinex for Breastfeeding Moms?
When it comes to medications and their safety for breastfeeding moms, they are rated by a scale that was developed by Dr. Thomas Hale, who is the author of the book Hale’s Medications & Mother’s Milk 2021: A Manual of Lactational Pharmacology. The scale goes from L1 drugs, which are considered extremely safe, to L5 drugs, which are considered not at all safe. Mucinex falls under the L2 category, which makes it a very safe drug when you’re breastfeeding.
Does this mean that Mucinex does not pass through the breast milk to a nursing infant? No, it does not, but the infant will get very little of the medication by the time they get to that point. In fact, once the infant is two months of age, the medication amount is so small that there is virtually no risk to their health. This is one of the reasons why Mucinex is safe for breastfeeding mothers and why some doctors even recommend it.
At this point, you might be wondering if you should even be breastfeeding if you’re sick, but not to worry because with only a few exceptions, breastfeeding while sick is perfectly acceptable. You do not have to “pump and dump” your milk when you’re ill, but you should take precautions not to spread the germs to your infant, such as washing your hands before nursing and wearing a mask.
In some ways, Mucinex is smarter to take than many other cold and flu medications because it is free of alcohol, and it’s always best to avoid alcohol when you’re nursing. And as long as you take Mucinex according to the directions, you can feel confident about taking it while you’re nursing. Generally, the directions tell you to take 200 mg to 400 mg per dose, although some slow-acting types of Mucinex may recommend higher doses.
Of course, while Mucinex (and the generic guaifenesin products) are safe for the baby, don’t be alarmed if your infant shows signs of drowsiness after you take it. The drowsiness should be very minor, and if it isn’t, you should talk to your doctor about it. Each infant is different, and this doesn’t happen to all of them. Make sure that you consult with your doctor if you’re concerned.
Be Careful in Certain Situations
Reading labels should be a given when you’re breastfeeding, and in some products -- most notably Mucinex D -- an ingredient called pseudoephedrine is added. This is not an ingredient that you need to stay away from completely, but you’ll want to use it in small doses because if you use it in larger doses, it can decrease your milk supply.
While Mucinex is safe for breastfeeding mothers, some moms choose more natural products instead. For instance, honey, lots of fluids, teas, and sinus flushes may help a lot when you’re congested. Even better, some of the teas can contain ingredients that will both help you feel better and increase your milk supply. Some of these ingredients include fennel, stinging nettle, and blessed thistle.
Regardless of what you decide to try when you’re sick, it needs to be checked out by your doctor first. Your situation might be different than another mom’s, which is why your doctor needs to be consulted before you take anything. It’s always better to be safe when taking anything while breastfeeding because nothing is too good for your baby.
ConclusionYou can indeed take Mucinex if you’re breastfeeding, but it’s best to try to take the forms that don’t have a lot of extra ingredients. It’s important to read labels so you don’t get too much of any one ingredient. Mucinex can help with congestion and sinus-like symptoms. It is an amazing product, but you still have to take it according to the instructions to make sure the dose is safe for both you and the baby. If you have any concerns, contact your doctor.
February 11, 2024
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