Monday, February 17, 2014

Natural Cold Remedies for Breastfeeding Moms and Babies

About a month ago, Little Z came down with an awful cold. Her nose was runny and stuffy, and she was coughing like crazy. She woke up often during naps and during the night, either because she couldn't breathe or was coughing her poor little lungs out. I think all you parents can agree--it's the worst to see your baby sick. It's especially rough when your sick kiddo is too young to understand why she feels so crummy. 

Before too long, with the help of some of the remedies I'm about to share, Z was feeling better. Unfortunately, Austin and I caught the bug soon after she was back to normal. It was probably one of the worst colds I've ever had. It lasted almost two weeks, and I was completely worn out. My nose was red and peeling from blowing it so often, my throat was raw, and my cough just would not leave me alone.

As a nursing mom, I know that many medicines (specifically for colds) are not recommended if you are breastfeeding. Even though they may be considered "safe," by medical standards, the drugs that help dry up the mucus and phlegm that cause runny noses and coughs can also dry up milk ducts. That is the opposite of what most nursing moms want, so I am here to share a bunch of natural, safe home remedies for you to try if you and your little one start feeling sick. They helped us a lot, and I hope they work for you, too!

(All opinions are my own, and I am not sponsored by any of these companies to write about their products. I used to be a wellness counselor at a local health food store, so I do have some training with these things, but I'm not a doctor! I just want to share what has worked for us.)

Here is a picture of everything together. I'll go more into detail about each item below.

Natural Cold Remedies for Breastfeeding Moms and Babies

Vitamins



When you are sick, your body usually needs a little boost in the vitamin department. For respiratory illnesses, I think vitamins A, C, and D are especially helpful. A is supposed to be especially good for coughs, and A and D are both great for immune health in general. (D has also been linked to clearing up asthma and other respiratory problems.) Brands don't matter, but these are the specific kinds we took. I love to take vitamin C in the form of these Emergen-C drink packs. They are fizzy, and they also have other vitamins for added goodness. The tiny bottle is a children's melt-in-your-mouth tablet version of vitamin D. Babies love it! Baby versions of vitamins can be found at most health food stores or online.

Herbs and Homeopathic Remedies

Natural Cold Remedies for Breastfeeding Moms and Babies Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies: Fenugreek, Homeopathics, Garlic

From left to right:
  • Fenugreek: Commonly recommended for lactation help, fenugreek is also a natural decongestant. It isn't as strong as the over the counter stuff, but it helps!
  • The middle three bottles are all homeopathic cold and cough blends. Homeopathics are natural and fairly low-dose, but they are clinically proven to help shorten the duration of a cold. There are many different brands and blends, so I would look for a blend that specifically suits the symptoms you have. The middle bottle is Hyland's Baby Cough Syrup. It helped Z so much, and I would highly recommend it. She loved how it tasted, as a funny side note. Silly girl!
  • Garlic: Garlic is kind of the best thing ever. It would help with just about anything health related, and it is awesome for colds! You can also cook with fresh garlic for extra garlic power, but I like to take enteric coated garlic tablets when I'm sick. You don't burp it up too much, that way, but you still get all the benefits of taking it. Garlic acts as an antimicrobial agent, so it kills the yucky germs that make you sick. It is really good stuff! We keep it around throughout the year. Since it is just a food, it is perfectly safe for moms and babies.
  • Other ideas: olive leaf extract and oregano are other herbs with antimicrobial/antiviral properties. My husband and I have both taken them many times with wonderful results. We didn't have any on hand this time around, or else I probably would have taken them! I have not read any studies about their safety for breastfeeding mothers, but I would imagine they are safe. You could ask your doctor to make sure!
Tissues, Essential Oils, and Chest Rubs


Natural Cold Remedies for Breastfeeding Moms and Babies Lotion Tissues, Essential Oils, Chest Rub

Lotion Tissues

I don't feel like these need much of an explanation, because we all know how sore noses get when we're sick! It's awful. My nose peeled for three days after I was finally better! I wish I would have had these the whole time I was sick instead of just the second half of the time. They are wonderful!

Essential Oils

I don't know about the rest of the world, but essential oils are the biggest thing since sliced bread around here! There are so many essential oils that would be helpful for colds and coughs, but these are the three that we used. My wonderful parents sent bought the first two, DoTerra's Breathe and OnGuard, for us when Z first got sick. They helped so much, and I would definitely recommend them. Remember to dilute them with a carrier oil, especially for use on baby feet or skin. The last oil pictured is Nature's Fusions Oregano. That is strong stuff, so be careful with it. I wouldn't use it on babies. Austin and I put it on our feet, and I think that and OnGuard made the biggest difference (out of everything) for me. Peppermint Oil (not pictured) is also wonderful for opening up the sinuses. Put a couple drops in the back of the shower to help you breathe easier.

Oils can also be taken internally, but I wouldn't recommend doing so for babies (just my opinion). For adults, you can put a drop or two in an empty gel capsule or just take it in water. Just be careful when using oils this way. Essential oils are very potent, and they can cause allergies and sensitivities when they are not used properly.

Chest Rub

This wonderful Tea Tree Therapy Chest Rub helped all three of us so much. It is a wonderful blend of eucalyptus, tea tree, and other oils. It was gentle enough to use on Z's baby skin, which is great. It can also be rubbed under the nose or on the bottoms of the feet.

Humidifier

Although I didn't take a picture of our humidifier, it was a big part of our war against the common cold. We turned it on in Z's room for naps and bedtime, and it helped so much with her breathing. It works great for moms and dads, too! ;)

Enzymes

Natural Cold Remedies for Breastfeeding Moms and Babies Enzymes

Enzymes help with two different aspects of sickness. They can help with any pain and inflammation that comes with being sick, and they also help break up mucus. I had never thought to try them for cold relief before, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much they helped.

Throat Spray

Natural Cold Remedies for Breastfeeding Moms and Babies Throat Spray

If you have a sore throat, you need a good throat spray! I used Barlean's Fresh Olive Leaf Complex Throat Spray. It has the antiviral properties (mentioned above) from the olive leaf, and it has menthol for pain control. It is a wonderful little product, and I would definitely recommend it.

A few more things that didn't make it into the picture:

Tea: A good herbal tea helps so much when you're sick. My favorite is Traditional Medicinals' Throat Coat, and I have also heard wonderful things about that same brand's Gypsy Cold Care, though I haven't tried it. Holy Basil Tea is another one we took when we got really sick. (All of these teas are fine for nursing moms. No caffeine or anything else to worry about. :) ) For a little extra goodness, add honey and lemon to your tea. (Remember, no honey for babies, though!)

Sleep: That's a little tricky to take a picture of, right? ;) Rest is so important when you are sick! If you have a tiny baby, take advantage of her frequent naps and nap with her! If your baby is older, set up a bed on the couch and rest while she plays. I did that a couple times, and Z liked it more than I thought. It was like all my attention was just on her, and she loved it! When I was feeling better the next day, she seemed frustrated that I was back up and about, doing chores and such. It can be hard to rest with kids, but it's important to try!

Try to eat: This is one I struggle with when I'm sick. If you're a nursing mommy, it's really important to keep your calorie intake up! Your body can't make milk from nothing, so make sure you eat plenty, even if you don't feel like it.

Drink lots of water: The reasoning is the same with water as it was with food--and I would say water is even more important when you're sick. Steer clear of soda and drink lots of water and herbal tea instead.

That's about it! I hope some of you find relief with one or more of these products. They helped us so much, and we are all finally back to normal.

What are your favorite natural cold remedies?

-Malia

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