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Is It Safe to Take DayQuil While Breastfeeding?

Catching a cold or flu isn’t fun, especially if you’re a breastfeeding mom. But while it can be tempting to take DayQuil or other over-the-counter medications to feel better, most of them are not safe for breastfeeding. Some medicines can decrease your supply and others have ingredients that can get to your baby through your milk.

Before taking a medication like DayQuil while breastfeeding, it is important to understand ingredients and consider alternate remedies. You should consult with your doctor before taking any medication while you are breastfeeding. Read the article below to learn more.

What’s In DayQuil?

DayQuil is a commonly used over-the-counter medication designed to relieve cold and flu symptoms, such as a runny nose, cough, and congestion. It’s basically a combination of three drugs:


Also known as Tylenol, acetaminophen is used to reduce fever and pain from inflammation. Since only a small amount gets into your milk, it's generally considered safe for breastfeeding. As long as it’s taken in low doses, it’s unlikely to harm your baby.


Dextromethorphan is mainly used as a cough suppressant. It is also found in medicines like Robitussin and Mucinex DM. If used as directed, it only has a small chance of getting to your baby through your milk, so it is generally considered safe while breastfeeding.


Phenylephrine is the most concerning drug in DayQuil for nursing moms. It works as a decongestant by causing blood vessels to constrict, thereby reducing swelling in surrounding tissues. Although it is mostly taken for its effects on the nasal passages, it has the same effect on tissues throughout your body, including your breasts. Another common decongestant called pseudoephedrine is known to reduce the hormone prolactin and suppress your milk supply. It can also get through your breastmilk to your baby and cause irritability.


Dayquil Severe Cold and Flu also contains guaifenesin, which is an expectorant that loosens up phlegm so you can cough it out more easily. If taken as directed by your doctor, guaifenesin is safe to take while breastfeeding.

How May DayQuil’s Ingredients Affect Breastfeeding?

Now that you understand which ingredients are in DayQuil, let’s consider how it can affect you and your baby if you are breastfeeding.

Decreased Milk Supply

Although formal studies have not been done on phenylephrine, breastfeeding mothers are often advised to minimize or avoid taking it because of its similarity to pseudoephedrine. If you take Dayquil or similar medications, note how it impacts your supply. You can also consider taking alternative cold and flu remedies or consulting your doctor.

Infant Irritability

Most babies tolerate the components in DayQuil, but some may become irritable or fussy because of the stimulant effects of phenylephrine. Talk to your doctor before taking any medication if you are breastfeeding. 

Potential Allergic Reactions

In rare cases, you or your baby may develop an allergic reaction to the ingredients in DayQuil. Watch for signs of an allergic reaction, like a rash, difficulty breathing, or swelling. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect an allergy.

Alternative Remedies to Treat Cold or Flu Symptoms while Breastfeeding

There are many other over-the-counter medications and home remedies that can provide relief from cold and flu symptoms instead of taking Dayquil. Here are some alternative treatments you may want to try. 


Antihistamines help reduce itching and nasal drainage by stopping your body’s histamine response. Cetirizine (Zyrtec), a second-generation antihistamine, is safe for breastfeeding mothers, as are loratadine (Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra), and levocetirizine (Xyzal). These medications should be taken in the lowest dose possible for a short period of time. First generation antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), may decrease your supply if taken regularly, so it is best to avoid them.

Nasal Rinses

Saline nasal rinses can be a helpful way to flush out sinus and nasal passages. It is best not to use them if your nose is very swollen or the saline can back up into your ears and sinuses.

Nasal Decongestants 

Oxymetazoline (Afrin) is a nasal spray that constricts the blood vessels in your nose temporarily, allowing you to breathe more clearly. It has low absorption through your nasal lining, so it doesn’t affect the rest of your body like oral decongestants. However oxymetazoline should only be used for two to three days in a row or your nasal congestion have a rebound reaction and get even more swollen.

Nasal Steroid Sprays

Fluticasone (Flonase) and mometasone (Nasonex) are steroid nasal sprays that are available over-the-counter. They can help with congestion and sinus pressure but may take several days of consistent use before they start to work. If used as directed, they are considered safe for your milk supply and baby.

Natural Nasal Sprays 

Nasal sprays with additives like oregano oil, clove oil, and xylitol, can soothe your nasal passages, and are safe while you are breastfeeding.

Steaming and Hot Showers

Taking a hot shower can help relieve congestion and ease muscle tension. The steam can open up your nasal passages and soothe your throat, providing temporary relief from cold symptoms.

Gargling with Hydrogen Peroxide and Water

Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent. It is not safe to drink, but you can dilute it by half with tap water, gargle it, then spit it out to soothe a sore throat. It's a safe and natural remedy that can be done multiple times a day as needed.

Consult Your Doctor

If you aren’t getting better on your own, contact your doctor. They can provide personalized guidance based on your health and your baby's needs and prescribe medications that are safe to take while you are breastfeeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which cold medicine can I take while breastfeeding?

Since cold medicines are usually a combination of different drugs, make sure to read the labels carefully and speak to your doctor before taking anything over-the-counter. The following medications are generally considered safe for breastfeeding moms in small doses for short periods of time:

  • Dextromethorphan

  • Oxymetazoline

  • Guaifenesin

  • Acetaminophen

  • Loratadine

  • Fexofenadine

  • Fluticasone

Can I drink Nyquil and breastfeed?

No. Do not take NyQuil if you are breastfeeding. NyQuil contains doxylamine, an antihistamine that may affect your milk supply, and alcohol. It can also make you and your baby drowsy.

Can I take cold and flu tablets while breastfeeding?

Taking over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and non-drowsy antihistamines is generally okay while you’re breastfeeding, but always read the labels to make sure each ingredient is safe and check with your doctor before taking anything. It is best to avoid NyQuil, Benadryl (diphenhydramine), and Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) since they can hinder your supply and cause other negative side effects.

What can I take for a cold while breastfeeding?

To alleviate cold symptoms while breastfeeding, consider using natural remedies like saline nasal sprays, nasal sprays with oregano or clove oil, steaming, and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. Always consult with your doctor before taking any medication to make sure it is safe for both you and your baby.


If you are breastfeeding and have cold or flu symptoms, consider safer alternatives before taking DayQuil. It is important to read the ingredients of all over-the-counter medications before taking them. Seemingly innocent drugs can have surprising effects when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Reviewed by Linda Dahl, MD


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