Tuesday, November 8, 2011

surviving cold season while breastfeeding

There's no denying it anymore- winter is upon us. Here in Minnesota, they are forecasting our first snow to come tonight. Along with the snow comes frigid temperatures and dry air- perfect conditions for those nasty little cold, flu and crud bugs that thrive on our sun-deprived little bodies.

On top of all the regular hazards, I work in an elementary school. Little kindergarteners seem to find pleasure in sneezing in my face and running their little mucus-y hands all over my body. Stop! I can't get sick- 2 babies and work depend on me.

To make matters worse, I found out the hard way a while ago that decongestants and antihistamines can reduce milk supply and should be avoided while breastfeeding. So what to do when you get sick? First- deflect sick bugs as if your life depends on it. Second- if you do get sick, find other ways to deal with your symptoms. Don't worry, it can be done! Read on for my advice to you:

Avoiding the Crud
The best way to deal with being sick is to not get sick in the first place!

  • Eat well. Lots of whole fruits and vegetables (avoid canned) and garlic. Take your pre-natal vitamins and avoid refined sugars.
  • Cleanse the air: Put a couple of drops of eucalyptus, lavender, geranium and/or bergamot essential oils in a diffuser or bowl of just boiled water. These oils will attack bacteria floating around in the air.
  • Wash your hands frequently. I prefer hand washing to hand sanitizer, which is full of all kinds of nasty chemicals.
  • Try to get as much sleep as possible- I know, I know, not so easy with babies and children!
  • Don't let the air in your house get too dry- Run a humidifier once a day or put a bowl of water on your radiator if you have one.

Dealing with the Crud
Ok, you're sick. What to do now?
  • The minute you start to feel symptoms come on, start taking elderberry extract. Take 20-30 drops of the non-alcohol based extract 3-4 times a day mixed with water. I love this stuff! Get some now.
  • Many people think that cold and flu bugs enter the body through the ear. Do the hydrogen peroxide therapy: When you start to feel symptoms come on, lay on your side and put a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear canal. Wait until bubbling subsides. Switch sides and repeat. 
  • Put a couple of drops of eucalyptus essential oil in a diffuser or bowl of just-boiled water. Eucalyptus helps to open the sinuses.
  • In a bath or shower, put a hot washcloth with a couple of drops of eucalyptus essential oil over your face and inhale deeply. This will also help to open the sinuses.
  • Keep a humidifier running.
  • Clean out sinuses with a neti-pot.
  • Use steam inhalation: Boil water and transfer it to a metal bowl. Add lemon wedges. Put your head over the bowl and cover with a towel. Breathe in deeply for 5 minutes. Repeat 2-3 times daily.
  • Avoid dairy products- they increase mucus production.
  • For bad chest colds and sinus issues, try an onion poultice.
  • For sore throats: the second you feel it, start gargling once an hour with an equal mixture of apple cider vinegar, honey and water. It will kick that sore throat's butt, I swear.
  • Get a Jewish mommy to make you some of her secret recipe chicken soup- I'm glad I have one!!!
Take care of yourselves, mamas! Anything else that you would like to add to this list?


  1. What a great list! I'm bookmarking this for when I get a cold later this winter - because I always do. . . I have a potentially silly question - Where do you buy essential oils? Would a health food store carry them?

    Another thing that works for me - Ibuprofen. Thank goodness for that stuff!


  2. Not a silly question! I linked to some Young Living oils- they're a great brand. Otherwise check out your coop or a Whole Foods. Make sure you get 100% pure therapeutic or medicinal grade oils- no perfume oils or diluted oils. Make sure they are in dark blue or brown glass bottles, because sun breaks them down.

    I really love aromatherapy, and my sis is a licensed aromatherapist. I love to share what works for us!

  3. I got the MOST number of colds in one season last year, about 6 total (never been sick that much), while breastfeeding my 8-13mo babe. My mom was just itching to stuff sudafed down my throat and I just kept telling her I didn't need it, just my baby. If I was stuffy to the point of pain, I just grabbed my kiddo and nursed away. As soon as let-down happened, my sinuses would clear (temporary, for an hour or so). It was just enough relief to keep me going and avoid the meds. :) :)

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