I believe most if not all mothers are concerned about their baby’s safety when it comes to medication safety. However, Most medicines are safe to take while you are breastfeeding. There are some medicines that enter your breast milk and can affect your baby, so get advice from your doctor, midwife or pharmacist before taking any medicines. Mothers are often concerned about taking medicines while breastfeeding and this is important. There are only a few medications that are not allowed while breastfeeding because it can cause you not to breastfeed or breastfeed and not take the medication you need.
Steps for Breastfeeding Safely
Most medicines are safe to take while you are breastfeeding because they don’t pass into your breast milk. Even if the medicine does enter your milk, it is usually in such a small amount that it won’t affect your baby.
However, some medicines do enter your breast milk. The effect on your baby depends on the age and health of your baby, the type of medicine, how much you take and when you take it.
Before your doctor prescribes a medicine for you, make sure they know you are breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding mothers rarely have to stop breastfeeding due to taking medicine. However, it is important you get advice from your doctor or pharmacist. They will help you to weigh up the risks and benefits of taking the medicine with any risks for your baby.
You should be careful if your baby was premature, is sick or is taking medicine themselves.
1. Avoid any medicine not needed
Use medicine only when you need it and it’s important to your health. Avoid any medicine that’s not essential.
2. If you need relief, try a natural method first
Here are a few examples:
- Pain: It’s safe to take paracetamol and ibuprofen while breastfeeding, as long as you take the correct dose. But if your pain is not too bad, try using relaxation techniques, massage or warm baths or ice or warm packs instead.
- Coughs, colds and allergies: Instead of cough, cold and allergy medicines, try avoiding things you know you’re allergic to and using saline nose drops, cool mist or steam. Many cold remedies have ingredients that you should avoid as some of them can reduce your milk supply.
- Tummy problems: Instead of medicines for gastric reflux, try eating small meals, sleeping with your head propped up and avoiding gas-forming foods. Instead of constipation relief medicines, try eating high-fiber cereal or prunes and drinking Kiwi Crush and plenty of water. and ginger tea
3. If you do need to take medicine, talk to your GP or pharmacist first
They can advise you on choosing the right medicine and on how to do the following:
- Take the lowest recommended dose for the shortest time possible.
- Avoid extra-strength or long-acting medicines for short-term conditions, and medicines with more than one ingredient.
- Take the medicine in a form that doesn’t enter your milk or only in minimal amounts. For example, it may be available as a cream, ointment or spray.
- Feed your baby just before you take the medicine, as this limits the amount passed into your breast milk.
Are there medicines I should avoid when breastfeeding?
There are some situations where the medicine is necessary but too harmful for you to continue breastfeeding, such as chemotherapy. If you need to take on of these medicine long-term, you will need to find other options to feed your baby safely:
- some anticancer medicines (chemotherapy)
- some immunosuppressants (with exceptions, eg, azathioprine in some circumstances)
- gold salts
What effect do medicines have on milk supply?
According to Jennifer Thomas, MD, FAAP, Chapter Breastfeeding Coordinator Steering Committee Vice Chief, Wisconsin Chapter Breastfeeding Coordinator advising a breastfeeding mother on the compatibility of her medications and breastfeeding can often be a source of confusion.
Some medicines can reduce or increase your milk supply.
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The combined oral contraceptives are best avoided in the early stages of breastfeeding because oestrogen (usually ethinyloestradiol) reduces milk supply. Breastfeeding women who need to take an oral contraceptive are usually prescribed a progestogen-only pill.
Where can mothers find Accurate information about medications?
The most accurate sources of information to aid clinicians about medications in breastfeeding mothers are the National Library of Medicine’s LactMed, (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgibin/sis/htmlgen?LACT) a searchable database of drugs and other chemicals to which breastfeeding mothers may be exposed and Dr. Thomas Hale’s ”Medications and Mother’s Milk” and his website forums at http://neonatal.ttuhsc.edu/lact/
LactMed is peer-reviewed, fully referenced, continually updated and a free service. The data given for each drug includes maternal and infant levels of drugs, possible effects on breastfed infants and on lactation, and alternate drugs to consider.
- Breastfeeding and Medicationexternal icon — American Academy of Pediatrics
- Clinical Protocol #9: Use of Galactogogues in Initiating or Augmenting the Rate of Maternal Milk Secretionexternal icon — Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
- Clinical Protocol #13: Contraception During Breastfeedingexternal icon — Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
- Clinical Protocol #15: Analgesia and Anesthesia for the Breastfeeding Motherexternal icon — Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
- Clinical Protocol #18: Use of Antidepressants in Breastfeeding Mothersexternal icon — Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
Even though most medications are potentially safe for breastfeeding, caution must still be upheld to ensure that you as a breastfeeding mother is protected. Always let your healthcare provider know that you want to breastfeed your baby. This is where they can plan your care adequately before baby arrives. You also should be aware and knowledgeable about the medications you take while breastfeeding. You should not stop breastfeeding and have not gotten any information on whether it is safe for you to take. Let nothing distract or destroy your breastfeeding relationship with your baby because there is nothing like breastfeeding your baby.
Thank you for stopping by today. I hope you learned something. Visit again and let me know of any topics you would like for me to talk about below. Also you can feel free to comment about your breastfeeding and medication journey.