Can I Take Dayquil or Nyquil While Breastfeeding?

Mom in bed sick

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Getting sick while breastfeeding is no fun. Caring for an infant is hard work. You probably haven't gotten a full night's sleep in a while, and using your body to nourish another human being can only add to your physical exhaustion.

If a cold or flu virus hits, you probably want to get better as soon as humanely possible. After all, even if you can take a day off from work, you can't just take a day off from breastfeeding. You'll need to keep nursing or pumping, perhaps even through the night.

Hopefully, you have support available so you can rest as much as possible if you get sick while breastfeeding. And if you have used Dayquil or Nyquil to combat cold symptoms before, you may wonder if either or both of these medications are safe for you to take.

When it comes to treating a cold, flu, or sinus infection, neither Dayquil nor Nyquil are the best options for breastfeeding parents. Both medications contain ingredients that may reduce milk supply. Although the ingredient that may cause this in Nyquil may be fine in small amounts, Nyquil also causes drowsiness in both parent and infant, which may not be safe.

What Are Dayquil and Nyquil?

Dayquil is made up of acetaminophen, a pain reliever and fever reducer; dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant; and phenylephrine, a decongestant.

Nyquil also contains acetaminophen and dextromethorphan, but instead of phenylephrine, it contains doxylamine, an antihistamine and sleep aid.

"Dayquil and Nyquil are both products that help alleviate cold and flu symptoms, such as runny nose, coughing, sore throat, fever, headache, and muscle aches," explains Sara Huberman Carbone, MD, a pediatrician at One Medical in California. "The Daytime version, Dayquil, does not contain ingredients that are known to help with sleep, where Nyquil does."

Is It Safe to Take Dayquil or Nyquil While Breastfeeding?

It's best not to take Dayquil or Nyquil while breastfeeding.

Dayquil contains a decongestant, and decongestants are not compatible with breastfeeding. "Oral decongestants may decrease breastmilk supply and should be used with caution when breastfeeding," notes Dr. Carbone.

While Nyquil does not contain a decongestant, instead, one of its ingredients is an antihistamine. Antihistamines may also affect problems with milk supply. The antihistamine in Nyquil may cause other problems as well. "The antihistamine component, Doxylamine, may cause irritability or drowsiness in infants who are breastfeeding if used for more than a few days," cautions Dr. Carbone.

Every breastfeeding journey is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about taking Dayquil or Nyquil while breastfeeding.

Why You Should Not Take Dayquil or Nyquil While Breastfeeding

Both Dayquil and Nyquil contain ingredients that may reduce your milk supply. In Dayquil, the decongestant phenylephrine works by narrowing blood vessels. This allows you to find relief from a stuffy nose, but it can also decrease your milk production.

"[Decongestants] help reduce phlegm, but as milk ducts also secrete liquid, these ingredients will probably also reduce the amount of breastmilk a breastfeeding mom produces," explains Peter Rizk MD, MA, FRCOG, FRCS, HCLD, FACOG, FACS, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and the head of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of South Alabama.

In Nyquil, the antihistamine doxylamine blocks histamines in your body. Histamines react to potential threats and cause blood vessels to expand. Blocking this process may inhibit your milk supply as well.

Doxylamine also causes drowsiness. It may not be safe to take a substance that can make you fall asleep while an infant is under your care. If you fall asleep with the infant in your bed or together on another surface, your child is at an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or suffocation.

Doxylamine may also cause drowsiness in your nursling. It's important for breastfeeding babies to wake frequently to feed so that they get enough milk. Sleeping through feeds may lead to insufficient calorie intake or jaundice.

When Can I Resume Taking Dayquil or Nyquil?

Both Dayquil and Nyquil may reduce milk supply so it is best to wait until your baby has weaned to take either medication again. Although the antihistamine in Nyquil has somewhat less potential to reduce milk supply, it can also cause drowsiness and irritability in your infant, so it is still better to wait until after weaning to take this medication.

Breastfeeding Safe Alternatives

You may need to leave both Dayquil and Nyquil in your medicine cabinet while you are still breastfeeding, but you do have a few safe alternatives to try.

Honey

Studies show that honey is an effective cough suppressant and decongestant. Honey also promotes healing via its antioxidants and antimicrobial properties. Just make sure not to feed any honey to your baby under age 1. Despite its benefits, it can cause a rare illness called botulism if given to infants.

Hot Water or Tea

Hot water may be the simplest yet most effective cure for congestion. "You'll want to stay hydrated while you aren't feeling well, and help keep your breast milk production going so try a breastfeeding support tea," suggests Dr. Rizk. You can add honey to your hot water or tea too, for double benefits.

Tylenol

Tylenol (acetaminophen) is a breastfeeding-safe medicine that may help you get through a cold or the flu. "Using single ingredients may be safer than using a combination medication," notes Dr. Carbone. "Tylenol can be used for pain relief or to reduce a fever."

A Word From Verywell

Neither Dayquil nor Nyquil are safe choices for breastfeeding parents. Dayquil contains a decongestant, which may decrease milk supply. Nyquil contains an antihistamine, which also may decrease milk supply, and which may cause drowsiness or irritability in your baby.

Nyquil may also make you too drowsy to safely care for a nursing infant. It's fine to take Tylenol or medicines that contain dextromethorphan and no decongestants or antihistamines. Warm water and honey might do the trick all on their own too. Always reach out to a healthcare provider if you have any questions about taking cold or flu relief medicines while breastfeeding.

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12 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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