Breastfeeding While Sick: Hot Lemonade Recipe

Written by: Sabrina Granniss, IBCLC

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Time to read 5 min

As a breastfeeding mom, you might look closer at how you treat the sniffles, congestion, cough, colds, and flu and want to ensure you are not taking anything that could impact your breastfeeding relationship. The good news is that there are many options to help you get through the season. At the first sign of a cold or flu, the recipe below is a great first defense but also can work wonders if you don’t end up starting it until you are in the trenches mid-illness. Each ingredient has health-promoting cold and flu-fighting benefits, and it tastes great! 


Winter months are the peak time for flu season in most areas. The air is colder, days are shorter, and most people spend much more time inside. Of course, the flu is not the only illness around, and dealing with any cold is never fun. If you're cold and flu-free, you can boost your immune system to stay healthy, but if you end up sick, there are ways to help relieve symptoms, support your milk supply, and get you feeling better faster. 


It is not unusual for your milk supply to dip when you have a cold or flu. It will bounce back afterward, but added support during an illness goes a long way to help it recover quickly. Some ingredients in the Hot Lemonade Tea are considered galactagogues, meaning they are used to support and increase milk supply.

Hot Lemonade for Cold & Flu Recipe

Ingredients:


10 oz of water or enough for your mug of choice

Throat Coat (Traditional Medicinals) tea bag (optional)

Half of a lemon

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp local honey* 

Pinch or two of cayenne pepper

Babies seem to like the taste of garlic in mom’s milk. One study showed that babies nursed longer and removed more milk if their mom had garlic compared to those who did not. (10)

How to make your tea

  1. Add enough water for your serving size to a pot and boil. You may want to start with just a few tablespoons more than the amount of water needed because some will evaporate as it comes to a boil. 
  2. If you use the Throat Coat tea bag, do not bring the water to a boil but just below boiling. 
  3. Let your water cool down for about 10 minutes so it is not as hot.
  4. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the pot of water and then add the rest of that lemon right to the pot.
  5. Add 1-2 freshly chopped or pressed garlic cloves to your pot.
  6. Stir your water mixture and then remove the half lemon.
  7. Put the tea bag in your mug. 
  8. Pour your garlic and lemon water into your cup with the tea bag.
  9. Stir in the honey only if the beverage will be for anyone over 1 year old; otherwise, omit the honey.
  10. Add a few pinches or sprinkles of cayenne pepper, as much as you can tolerate, and stir the water.
  11. Breathe in your tea’s steam, sip your tea & enjoy!
  12. Don’t forget to eat the garlic in your hot lemonade

More Options & Variations

One:

Make a large batch of the Throat Coat tea to complete part of the process. 

Heat 8 1⁄4 cups of water to just under a boil to make a large batch. Pour the heated water into a half-gallon glass jar with a lid, like a Ball wide-mouth jar. 


Add 6 Throat Coat Tea bags and cover the jar with a lid as it steeps. Use caution handling the glass jar because it immediately gets hot once you add your heated water. 6 tea bags make a half-gallon of tea and can be stored on the counter for 1-2 days at room temperature. You can use the tea at room temp or lightly reheat it for your next mug of Hot Lemonade.


Two:

Bigger mug = more ingredients. Sometimes, it is easiest to double the recipe and put it in an insulated mug to last longer and give you more time to rest while sipping your tea. 


Three:

Add fresh ginger root or Turmeric root if you would like. Both are immune boosters and help fight colds & flu. Turmeric is high in vitamin C, can reduce mucus, and soothes a sore throat and cough. Ginger is warming in the body and fights inflammation in the throat while settling your belly.


Four:

Before bed, you can use a different tea, like chamomile, although the Throat Coat tea is also calming and may help settle a sore throat in the evening. If you need a little variety, this is one option. Ginger tea is another good choice. If you are making a large batch of tea in option one above, you can use 3 ginger tea bags and 3 Throat Coat tea bags to have it ready-made.

Why it works so well

Lemon is high in Vitamin C to help fight your cold. (1) It provides magnesium, which can help ease sore or restless muscles, potassium and calcium, two other essential electrolyte boosters. (2) Replacing or increasing electrolytes helps keep you well hydrated. Even though lemons are acidic, when digested, it produces alkaline byproducts and helps balance your body’s pH. (3) This is a safer way to boost electrolytes than many drinks on the market that often contain other less desirable ingredients and colorings.


Cayenne pepper contains antioxidants like Vitamin C, beta carotene, and choline, which help rid the body of free radicals that keep you sick. Capsaicin in cayenne pepper shrinks the blood vessels in your nose and throat to help you sneeze less and reduce post-nasal drip, congestion, and stuffy nose. (4)


Honey adds a touch of sweetness to your Hot Lemonade, and it can help with upper respiratory tract infections. (5) It feels good on your throat and may help you cough less often.


Bonus Tip: Mix a minced clove of garlic with one teaspoon of honey for a super boost. Garlic is antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal.


Slippery Elm Bark, an ingredient in Throat Coat tea, helps with sore throat, cough, and the entire digestive system. It contains mucilage, which is gel-like, and coats the intestines, helping absorb and remove toxins, protecting the gut lining, and moving the bowels. (6)  It is used for reflux as it protects the esophagus from the burning sensation. (7)


Licorice Root fights viral and bacterial infections and can get rid of congestion and expel phlegm. (8) It has a slightly sweet flavor and is pleasant to drink. It can help calm an upset tummy during colds & flu. (9)


Drinking Hot Lemonade and getting plenty of rest can make a big difference in getting you back on your feet again. Consider an in-bed staycation and cozy up with your baby for a day in bed, letting them nurse as often as they like to boost their immune system while the cold and flu are in your home. Your milk will give them antibodies that will help keep them well or reduce the severity of symptoms if they catch what is going around, too.

Summary

  • The Hot Lemonade recipe is easy to make and can be made in large batches.
  • Some cold medications can reduce milk supply, but Hot Lemonade supports lactation.
  • The ingredients in Hot Lemonade help relieve cold symptoms and boost your immune system.
  • The Hot Lemonade recipe is easy to make and can be made in large batches.
  • Some cold medications can reduce milk supply, but Hot Lemonade supports lactation.
  • The ingredients in Hot Lemonade help relieve cold symptoms and boost your immune system.

Footnotes

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/keyfacts.htm#:~:text=Preventing%20Seasonal%20Flu,-The%20first%20and&text=CDC%20also%20recommends%20everyday%20preventive,lungs)%20illnesses%2C%20like%20flu.

  2. https://www.ewg.org/foodscores/content/natural-vs-artificial-flavors/