Can you take medication while breastfeeding? There are many medications that can be taken during breastfeeding…but there are medications that can cause side-effects in baby.
This page discusses the safe and unsafe medication while breastfeeding.
Other specific pages that might be useful to you on Breastfeeding and medicine…
- Taking galacagogues (herbal and non herbal) for increased milk supply.
- Article by Dr. Thomas Hale on factors that influence the entry of drugs into a mother's breast milk
- Most are safe for breastfeeding with no side-effects
- Others are safe during breastfeeding, but mom might have to keep an eye on baby for some side-effects (mentioned below)
- Some medication can be taken during breastfeeding only if there are no other alternative medications and baby should be monitored for side-effects.
- There are medications that should be avoided as they may decrease milk
supply (especially meds containing pseudo ephedrine, flu medication and contraceptives)
- Then there are medications that should never be taken while breastfeeding and these include:
1. Radioactive substances (mom will need to pump and dump while on these if she wishes to continue to breastfeed afterward)
2. Anticancer drugs (antimetabolites)
3. Immunosuppressive and Antineoplastic drugs
Things you can do to decrease the amount of any medication in your breast milk
- Take the medication straight after you have breastfed baby…this will give the meds a longer time to leave your system before you breastfeed again
- Try not taking any unnecessary medication
- Ask your doctor for safer alternative breast feeding medication
Some drugs that are known to Decrease milk production:
- Estrogens (often found in birth control pills)
- Ergot Alkaloids (Bromocriptine & Cabergoline)
Some drugs that are known to Increase milk production:
- Motilium (Domperidone) This drug is often prescribed to increase milk production.
- Reglan (Metoclopramide)
- Phenothiazine Neuroleptics
A list of some safe medication while breastfeeding
- Acetaminophen / paracetamol (Tylenol and Panadol)
- Ibuprofin (Advil, Nuprin, Motrin)
- Dextromethorphan (active ingredient in Triaminic, Robitussin, Coricidin.)
A list of medication that is still safe but not as safe as the above medication
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Sertraline (Zoloft) and Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Bupivacaine (Marcaine)
A list of medication that is only moderately safe while breastfeeding
Medications that is possibly harmful to baby while breastfeeding
Medication that should never be taken while breastfeeding
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Radioactive isotopes
- Vapor rub, eucalyptus oil
- Saline nasal sprays
- Gargle with salt water
- Take a multivitamin and extra vitamin C
- Rest. Eat and drink well.
- Use a humidifier
- Echinacea is great for boosting your immune system and is safe for breastfeeding mothers.
- Garlic is a natural antibiotic
- Cayenne pepper and nutmeg can help for prevention and treatment of colds. Use on all foods.
- Fenugreek tea can help for head and chest congestion and even for a cough.
- Slippery elm bark comes in throat lozenges
Breastfeeding medication symptoms to look out for
- Baby is more unsettled and fussy than usual
- Baby has diarrhea
- Baby is not sleeping enough
- Your milk supply is starting to dry up
- Your milk supply increases (usually if the medication contains prolactin)
Always ask your doctor before taking any medications while breastfeeding.
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