Sudafed, a brand name of pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, is an over-the-counter medication used to remedy sinus or nasal congestion. Women who are breastfeeding should always consult a health-care professional before using any medication. As with any medication, Sudafed has the potential to affect the breast milk and the breastfeeding baby.
Evidence of Impact
Results from a study published in the "British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology" indicate that a single dose of pseudoephedrine significantly reduces milk production. When breastfeeding has been well established, a single dose of Sudafed may not terminally affect the milk supply. A professional lactation consultant can assist a mother in rebuilding a healthy milk supply if the drug seems to stop milk production. Pumping with a breast pump after each feeding, nursing the baby frequently and even the use of some breast milk teas or herbs can give the milk supply a boost following Sudafed use.
Drug Effects on Infant.
Using Sudafed can directly impact the infant. There is a risk that the infant will experience the same effects as the mother. When Sudafed is taken, the mother experiences a decreased sense of congestion due to the reduced inflammation of the nasal passages and sinus cavities. How this impacts the infant is not exactly known, but the potential for similar, unnecessary, reactions exists. Despite the potential for this to occur, Sudafed is described as generally safe when used infrequently.
Result of Decreased Milk Supply
There is a risk that the infant will be hungry after feeding sessions due to the reduced milk supply. This can cause fussiness, sleep disruption and even weight loss or failure to gain weight with continued Sudafed use. Kellymom.com explains that chronic use of Sudafed can discontinue milk production entirely.
Sudafed can be used in a manner other than how it is intended, called off-label use, to diminish milk supply. The necessity of drug use to stop lactation is rare, but under health-care provider supervision, Sudafed may be useful in this situation.