Can I Take Robitussin While Breastfeeding?

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You're congested, and you can't stop coughing as you hold your nursing baby to your breast. Between the constant coughing and the baby, you have been up all night. This cough just won't go away, but you're not sure if the Robitussin that always does the trick is safe to take while breastfeeding.

In fact, Robitussin is probably fine to take while breastfeeding as long as your baby is over 2 months old. "Robitussin has not been studied or measured, but in general we know that
only about 1% is excreted into breast milk," explains Kim Langdon, MD, an OB/GYN with over 20 years of experience in the field. "Therefore, a low dose should pose minimal problems."

When deciding whether to take Robitussin, take into account your baby's age and the severity of your symptoms. While breastfeeding, stick to Robitussin made from only dextromethorphan and guaifenesin while avoiding types that contain other ingredients.

It is best to discuss Robitussin use with your healthcare provider before taking it while breastfeeding.

What Is Robitussin?

Robitussin is a cough medicine made from dextromethorphan and guaifenesin, and sometimes other ingredients. Dextromethorphan and guaifenesin work together to stop you from coughing.

Guaifenesin is an expectorant, which works by loosening the mucus in your airways, making for a more productive cough. This relieves congestion, letting you cough it all out, so you don't have to cough anymore. Dextromethorphan works to suppress your system's cough response.

Is It Safe to Take Robitussin While Breastfeeding?

Experts generally agree that it is probably fine to take Robitussin after your baby reaches 2 months of age.

Research has not been done on whether dextromethorphan or guaifenesin passes through breastmilk or what effects these ingredients may have on breastfed infants. As of now, we cannot say for sure whether any amount of Robitussin is completely safe to use while breastfeeding. However, based on their overall knowledge of how similar ingredients pass through breastmilk, experts agree that Robitussin is unlikely to harm your baby if you take it while breastfeeding.

"Both dextromethorphan and guaifenesin are safe for healthy breastfeeding women, but moms should check with their doctor before using," notes Greg Marchand MD, FACOG, FACS, a board-certified OB/GYN and a fellow of both the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

Always check the type of Robitussin you have and take a look through its ingredients before taking it. While Robitussin containing only dextromethorphan and guaifenesin is probably fine, you want to avoid any cough medicines that contain alcohol, antihistamines, or anything else that might be unsafe for breastfeeding.

Safety Precautions

If you choose to take Robitussin while breastfeeding, there are some safety precautions to keep in mind.

Allergies

Some people are allergic to Robitussin. This can cause hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing. An allergic reaction may be life threatening. If you have never taken Robitussin before, you may not want to find out now whether you are allergic. Not only could you need to be treated in the hospital, but the medications needed to relieve your symptoms may not be best for a breastfeeding baby.

Avoid Added Ingredients

Some types of Robitussin contain additional ingredients to tackle symptoms that often go along with having a cough. In general, it is best to bypass any of these versions of this medicine, as their added ingredients may not be safe for breastfeeding.

Some examples of ingredients to avoid include antihistamines, alcohol, and a drug called phenylephrine.

Antihistamines, such as doxylamine succinate, have the potential to affect milk supply, so it is best to avoid taking them. Phenylephrine, a decongestant that works by narrowing blood vessels, also has the potential to reduce supply.

You will also want to make sure that any cough medicine you take is alcohol-free. "The amount of alcohol that ends up in breast milk is very small, but there are plenty of alcohol-free syrups or capsules that would make a safer choice while breastfeeding," notes Dr. Marchand.

One ingredient found in some types of Robitussin that is most likely safe for breastfeeding parents is acetaminophen. If you do take it, make sure you are not taking acetaminophen in other forms, such as Tylenol.

Stick to the Recommended Dosage

If you choose to take Robitussin while breastfeeding, take it only if you really need it and the smallest amount needed. Although experts agree that Robitussin is unlikely to affect a nursing baby, no research has actually confirmed whether it is safe in any amount. Therefore, it is important not to exceed the dosage indicated on the packaging.

The dosage for Robitussin Maximum Strength Cough and Chest Congestion DM is 20 milliliters every four hours. Dosages may vary depending upon the product, so always read the label.

Watch for Potential Side Effects

Like most medicines, Robitussin may come with some side effects. These may include diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, insomnia, irritability, and restlessness.

It's important to remain aware of these side effects so you can monitor your usage and how it affects you as a breastfeeding parent. Symptoms such as drowsiness, for example, may be unsafe if you are already feeling sleep-deprived and need to be able to stay awake while tending to your baby.

"Drowsiness is the most common side effect when using Robitussin," says Dr. Langdon. "You don't want to fall asleep while breastfeeding for safety reasons, and being overly sleepy can also impact your ability to think clearly."

A Word From Verywell

If you are suffering from a bad cough while breastfeeding, taking a small amount of Robitussin is unlikely to hurt your baby. Robitussin is generally considered safe in small amounts while breastfeeding after your baby reaches 2 months of age.

Make sure to check the ingredients on the Robitussin you take to ensure that they only contain dextromethorphan and guaifenesin. Robitussin with other ingredients may not be safe while breastfeeding. Avoid any cough medicines containing alcohol. Always reach out to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about taking Robitussin while breastfeeding.

11 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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By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR Family and Scary Mommy, among others.