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Which Meds Are Safe to Take When Breastfeeding?

If you're breastfeeding and come down with a run-of-the-mill ailment, you needn't just grin and bear it. Though small amounts of medication can make their way into your breast milk, there are treatments for common maladies that are generally considered safe to take while nursing. (Before taking any drug while breastfeeding it's a good idea to consult with your pediatrician. Also let her know if you're on more than one medication at a time.)

Ailment: Cold
Medication: Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) to relieve nasal congestion (it's been reported to decrease milk supply in some); dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM) to suppress cough; acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) for body aches.
Non-Drug Alternatives: Steam from a shower can open up nasal passages as can sleeping with a humidifier; tea with honey and lemon can ease a sore throat.

Ailment: Diarrhea
Medication: Don't take anything for 24 hours to give your body a chance to get rid of whatever's causing the problem; if you still need relief, try loperamide (Imodium A-D).
Non-Drug Alternatives: Drink plenty of clear liquids (avoid apple and pear juice, though, because they can worsen symptoms); gradually add semi-solid, low-fiber foods to your diet, like soda crackers, toast, eggs and rice and avoid dairy, fatty foods and high-fiber ones until your bowel movements return to normal.

Ailment: Allergic rashes
Medication: If applied on a small area, topical hydrocortisone creams (such as Cortaid) and calamine lotion are safe.
Non-Drug Alternatives: Take an oatmeal bath or one with baking soda (use 1 cup per bath).

Ailment: Headaches
Medication: Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol), ibuprofen (including Advil, Motrin) for general pain; codeine for migraines.
Non-Drug Alternatives: Lie down in a quiet, dark room; apply an ice pack on the affected area for 15 minutes every hour; acupressure (press or massage the base of your head for about 10 minutes).

Ailment: Seasonal allergies
Medication: Certirizine (such as Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), or an intra-nasal steroid spray fluticasone (Flonase) can relieve symptoms.
Non-Drug Alternatives: Acupuncture; installing a household air purifier.

Ailment: Stomach upset
Medication: Calcium carbonate (Tums, Maalox).
Non-Drug Alternatives: Chamomile tea; ginger (tea or candy); a hot water bottle (apply for 20 minutes at a time).