Call Us:

(859) 277-6102
Breastfeeding & Medication
By Dr. Michelle Bennett
September 27, 2013
Category: breastfeeding
Tags: Untagged

Wondering which medications are safe to take while breastfeeding your baby?  

Here are a few guidelines:


1.   When possible, it's best to avoid taking any medication while breastfeeding. While there is some information available about most medications and compatibility with breastfeeding, often, there's not as much data as we would like. If you have a cold, allergies, or viral illness and are uncomfortable but not truly miserable, the risk of exposing your baby to medications is just probably not worth it. 


2.  Try to treat symptomatically first. For nasal congestion, try saline nasal spray or a neti pot (use distilled water). For cough or sore throat, try warm apple cider, a teaspoon of honey here and there, a humidifier in your bedroom, or a steamy shower. For seasonal allergies, keep all windows in your home closed to decrease exposure.  


3.  If medication is needed, try to treat in the most localized way possible. For example, if you're having allergy eyes, try allergy eye drops, rather than an oral antihistamine. If you're having nasal allergies, try a prescription allergy nasal spray.  


4.  Be sure to tell your doctor that you're breastfeeding. And then double-check the medications you're given with us. Many adult doctors don't have a great deal of experience prescribing medications for breastfeeding mothers, and they may not be sure where to look for accurate information. Sometimes doctors also may not be aware that certain medications can interfere with breastmilk production, even if they don't pose an exposure risk to the baby.  


5.  If your doctor tells you that you need to discontinue breastfeeding or pump-and-dump to take a medication, then definitely double-check with us. Exclusive pumping can decrease your milk production, and it can be emotionally difficult for a baby who is accustomed to exclusive nursing. Sometimes it's a necessity, but sometimes we can recommend alternatives.


6.  Here's a great resource you can check on your own at home: LactMed, published by the United States National Library of Medicine, is the most up-to-date resource for information about breastfeeding and medications. Just type in the brand or generic name of your medication, and a summary of breastfeeding research and safety will pull up.  


Breastfeeding is important. And the mother's health is important too!  If you're really sick, take care of yourself and see your doctor. Fortunately, if medications are needed, it's usually possible to find ones that don't necessitate any interruption in breastfeeding. Just check with us to be certain if you have questions!


Dr. Michelle Bennett