Can I Take Mucinex While Breastfeeding?

Woman sick

svetikd / Getty Images

Trying to take care of a newborn and breastfeed can be a challenge in and of itself. Add a cold or the flu into the mix, and being a new parent just got more difficult. Luckily, if you are suffering from cold or flu symptoms, including a cough, fever, and/or a stuffy nose, there is medication you can take to feel better, even if you are nursing. It is generally OK for breastfeeding parents to take Mucinex, which contains the active ingredient guaifenesin.

“You can take Mucinex while breastfeeding, as it is considered category L2 (safer)," says Cristina Gordon, a certified lactation consultant at L2 refers to the scale of every medication’s safety risk for breastfeeding parents that was created by Dr. Thomas Hale. The scale ranges from L1 (safest) to L5 (contraindicated).

Although this medication is considered safe to take while nursing, some doctors still warn of possible side effects. “Babies can definitely feel the effects of any medications that pass through the breastmilk,” says Neela Sethi Young, MD, a MAM Baby ambassador, practicing pediatrician, and lactation expert based in California. “Their side effects are generally a milder version of what mothers feel.” This could include drowsiness.

Read on to learn how to properly heal from a cold or flu while breastfeeding, and how and when it’s appropriate to take a medication like Mucinex.

What Is Mucinex?

Mucinex is an expectorant. It is used to loosen mucus and clear cold and flu symptoms including body pains, headache, cough, chest congestion, nasal congestion, sinus pressure, and a sore throat.

If you’re feeling sick because of a cold or the flu, you may be searching for an over-the-counter medication like Mucinex. There are various forms including liquid gel capsules, tablets, and a liquid formula. Mucinex comes in both day and night formulas, as well as children’s products.

Some products contain only guaifenesin while others contain guaifenesin and other ingredients like acetaminophen and Dextromethorphan HBr. Different products have different dosing and ingredient amounts, so it’s very important to read the label of the specific product you are taking.

Is It Safe to Take Mucinex While Breastfeeding?

It is generally safe for breastfeeding parents to take Mucinex while nursing. However, it’s important to speak to a healthcare provider about the proper dosing and to only take the medication when it’s vitally needed.

“Mucinex is an expectorant that helps loosen up mucus stuck in the respiratory tract,” explains Meleen Chuang, MD, OBYN and medical director of Women’s Health at the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone. “Small amounts of Mucinex should be fine to take when needed; however, not much research has been done on breastfeeding mothers.”

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

Safety Precautions

A proper and recommended dose of Mucinex is safe to take while breastfeeding. It is worth noting, however, that some medication does pass through breast milk to the baby, though not enough to cause significant harm.

“If any of the medications you are taking are within Hale’s L1 to L3 category, a baby has been monitored throughout that time and there are no notable short-term effects,” adds Gordon. “In small doses, these medications are not shown to go through the bloodstream strongly enough to impact the baby.”

Scientific studies of both pregnant and lactating parents taking certain medications are lacking since it’s hard to conduct tests on such a vulnerable group. “I am not aware of any studies that have reviewed long-term effects of these medications in breast milk and babies,” says Dr. Neela.

Some research has shown that pseudoephedrine, which is found in Mucinex D, may decrease milk supply. “It is best to avoid certain over-the-counter cough medications as they may decrease breast milk supply,” says Dr. Neela. “Just as they dry up your nasal congestion, they can also dry up your breast milk. Usually, antihistamines and nasal decongestants are the ingredients that have this effect on breastmilk.”

It is important to continue nursing or pumping to remove milk throughout being sick to protect your milk supply. Drinking fluids is also important for nursing as well as healing from a virus.

Breastfeeding Safe Alternatives

In addition to, or instead of, reaching for the medicine cabinet, there are some more natural cold and flu remedies breastfeeding parents can try. “We love advising mothers to use honey, hot tea, sinus rinses, fluids, and rest to best recover from any illness,” says Dr. Neela.

Dr. Chuang is fine with breastfeeding parents taking small amounts of Mucinex, and also recommends drinking tea with honey. “Many teas contain ingredients like fenugreek, blessed thistle, fennel, and stinging nettle that have been shown to help breast milk production as well,” says Dr. Chuang.

Drinking tea with honey helps soothe a sore throat, and also increases hydration. Honey, which is safe for a parent to eat during pregnancy and lactation, also helps to relieve congestion, as it is a natural expectorant.

A Word From Verywell

Mucinex is safe for a parent to take while nursing a baby. However, it should not be taken for an extended period of time since a small amount of medication does pass through the breast milk. Doctors encourage rest, hot liquids with honey, and sinus rinses in addition to this medication to speed up recovery. Be sure to talk with a healthcare provider to see if taking Mucinex while breastfeeding is the best option for you.

5 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.
  1. Guaifenesin. In: Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). National Library of Medicine (US); 2006.

  2. Mitchell JL. Use of cough and cold preparations during breastfeedingJ Hum Lact. 1999;15(4):347-349. doi:10.1177/089033449901500417

  3. Pseudoephedrine. In: Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). National Library of Medicine (US); 2006.

  4. Aljazaf K, Hale TW, Ilett KF, Hartmann PE, Mitoulas LR, Kristensen JH, Hackett LP. Pseudoephedrine: effects on milk production in women and estimation of infant exposure via breastmilk. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2003 Jul;56(1):18-24. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2125.2003.01822.x.

  5. Bowes WA. The effect of medications on the lactating mother and her infant: Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1980;23(4):1073-1080. doi:10.1097/00003081-198012000-00010

By Dory Zayas
Dory Zayas is a freelance beauty, fashion, and parenting writer. She spent over a decade writing for celebrity publications and since having her daughter in 2019, has been published on sites including INSIDER and Well+Good.