Is It Safe To Use Mucinex While Pregnant or Breastfeeding?

Medically reviewed by University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group on August 29, 2016Written by University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group on August 29, 2016

Introduction

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, the last thing you want is a cold or the flu. But what if you do get sick? What medications can you take to feel better while also keeping your pregnancy or your little one safe?

Mucinex is one of many over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications. The main forms of Mucinex are Mucinex, Mucinex D, Mucinex DM, and the extra-strength versions of each. These forms can be used to treat symptoms of colds and the flu, such as cough and congestion in your chest and nasal passages. Here’s what to know about the safety of Mucinex while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Is Mucinex safe to use during pregnancy?

The three active ingredients in Mucinex, Mucinex D, and Mucinex DM are guaifenesin, dextromethorphan, and pseudoephedrine. These drugs are found in differing amounts in these Mucinex products. To understand Mucinex safety during pregnancy, first we have to look at the safety of these three ingredients.

Guaifenesin

Guaifenesin is an expectorant. It helps relieve symptoms of chest congestion by loosening and thinning mucus in the lungs. Coughing up mucus helps clear the airways and makes breathing easier.

According to a source in American Academy of Family Physicians, it’s not yet known if guaifenesin is safe to use during pregnancy. Therefore, doctors recommend that you avoid using it during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant. It works by affecting the signals in the brain that trigger the cough reflex. According to the same source in American Academy of Family Physicians, dextromethorphan seems to be safe to use during pregnancy. However, this medication should only be used during pregnancy if it’s clearly needed.

Pseudoephedrine

Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant. It shrinks blood vessels in your nasal passages, which helps reduce stuffiness in your nose. The American Academy of Family Physicians states that pseudoephedrine could cause certain birth defects during the first trimester of pregnancy. They recommend that you avoid using it during that time.

Strengths

The table below lists the strengths of each ingredient in different Mucinex products.

IngredientGuaifenesinDextromethorphan Pseudoephedrine
Mucinex600 mg --------
Maximum Strength Mucinex1,200 mg--------
Mucinex DM600 mg30 mg----
Maximum Strength Mucinex DM1,200 mg60 mg----
Mucinex D600 mg----60 mg
Maximum Strength Mucinex D1,200 mg----120 mg

In conclusion…

Because the six forms of Mucinex listed above all contain guaifenesin, you should avoid taking any of them during the first trimester of your pregnancy. However, they may be safe to use during later trimesters. Still, you should be sure to ask your doctor before taking any Mucinex products at any time during your pregnancy.

Is Mucinex safe to use while breastfeeding?

To find out if Mucinex, Mucinex D, and Mucinex DM are safe to use while breastfeeding, again we have to look at the safety of their active ingredients.

Guaifenesin

No reliable studies have yet been done about the safety of guaifenesin use while breastfeeding. Some sources claim that it’s likely safe, while others suggest avoiding the drug until more is known about its effects.

Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan safety during breastfeeding has not been studied much, either. However, it’s thought that only very low levels of the drug may appear in breast milk if the mother takes dextromethorphan. It’s likely safe to use during breastfeeding, especially in children who are older than two months of age.

Pseudoephedrine

Pseudoephendrine’s safety during breastfeeding has been studied more than guaifenesin’s or dextromethorphan’s. In general, pseudoephedrine is thought to be safe during breastfeeding. However, small studies have found that the drug could reduce the amount of milk your body makes. Pseudoephedrine may also cause breastfed infants to be more irritable than normal.

In conclusion…

It’s likely safe to use these Mucinex products while breastfeeding. However, you should always ask your doctor before doing so.

Alternatives

If you would like to avoid taking cold medications during your pregnancy or while breastfeeding, there are drug-free options that could help relieve your symptoms.

For congestion

Try these:

  • Drink more fluids, such as water or fruit juices, to help loosen mucus and ease the removal of phlegm. If you have any medical condition that requires you to limit fluids or sugars, such as diabetes or heart failure, check with your doctor before drinking more fluids.
  • Take a hot shower. The steam can open your nasal passages and help you breathe more easily.
  • Use an extra pillow when sleeping. This can help fluids drain from your nasal passages more easily.

For sore throat

Try these:

  • Gargle with warm salt water.
  • Suck on a throat lozenge or piece of hard candy.
  • Eat ice chips.
  • Drink warm tea.

Talk with your doctor

Mucinex is likely safe to take while breastfeeding and during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Before taking any medication while pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first. You may want to review this article with your doctor and ask any questions you have. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Is Mucinex, Mucinex D, or Mucinex DM safe for me to take?
  • Which of these products would work best for my symptoms?
  • Am I taking any other medications that contain the same ingredients as Mucinex?
  • Are there other, non-drug ways to help relieve my symptoms?
  • Do I have any health problems that Mucinex could affect?

Your doctor can help you find relief from your symptoms while keeping your pregnancy or your child safe.

Note: There are many other forms of Mucinex not listed in this article, such as Maximum Strength Mucinex Fast-Max Severe Cold. Other forms may contain other medications, such as acetaminophen and phenylephrine. This article only addresses Mucinex, Mucinex D, and Mucinex DM. If you’d like to know about the effects of the other forms of Mucinex, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Q:

Do Mucinex, Mucinex D, or Mucinex DM contain alcohol?

A:

No, they do not. In general, alcohol is only contained in liquid forms of cold medications. The Mucinex forms listed in this article all come in tablet form. During pregnancy or while breastfeeding, you should avoid taking any medication that contains alcohol. If you’re ever unsure if a drug you’re taking contains alcohol, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Healthline Medical TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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