As a breastfeeding mother, you need to be careful about what kind of drugs you take so as not to compromise the breast milk that you feed to your baby.
Many medications are notorious for having grave side effects. But of course their manufacturers don’t want you to know about it and do their best to disguise those side-effects as much as possible. As a breastfeeding mother, you need to be careful about what kind of drugs you take so that you don’t compromise the breast milk that you eventually feed to your baby.
Across the internet you can find the truth about several drugs and often you’ll be surprised. For example, an article on Invokana by Medtruth shows it’s risks on amputations and an article by the AAP exposes the dangers of antibiotics and sulfa drugs. While there are countless examples of dangerous yet common medications, this article will focus on ones that affect breastfeeding.
Most medicines will not find their way into your breast milk. Even if they do, they usually come in such trace amounts as to not be something to worry about. Unfortunately, there are some medicines that are likely to induce vomiting or diarrhea in your baby, or make your baby either unusually irritable or sleepy. Some medicines can also affect the volume of milk you produce, leading to more or less breast milk than normal.
Medications to Be Wary of While Breastfeeding
It’s a pretty rare occurrence that breastfeeding mothers will have to stop breastfeeding their children because they are taking medicines. Even so, it is still important that you consult your doctor and weigh the benefits of the medicine against the risks, both for you and for the baby.
Certain medicines are dangerous in general and should be avoided when breastfeeding. These are:
- Some drugs that are used during chemotherapy for cancer
- Some drugs that are taken to treat certain heart conditions, such as an irregular heart rhythm
- Some drugs that are used to treat mental health conditions and contain lithium like drugs for bipolar disorder
- Medicines that are injected into the patient during MRI scans
- Some drugs that are used to treat acne, psoriasis and other skin conditions
Medications to Take When Advised by a Physician
There are medicines you can take when you are breastfeeding, and they are generally considered safe. These include the following:
- Antibiotics, but only with your doctor’s advice because some antibiotics can make your milk taste bitter
- Antidepressants as most of them are safe
- Asthma medicines as most relievers and preventers are pretty safe; you also generally shouldn’t stop taking your asthma medicine when you’re breastfeeding
- For flu and cold, you can use nasal sprays, steam inhalations and decongestant nasal sprays; try to avoid medicines that contain pseudoephedrine
- For coughs, you generally won’t need medication as coughs will usually go away without even needing treatment; if you do want to take some mixture for your cough, consult your doctor about which one is safe (always consult your GP if your cough is hanging around longer than 2-3 weeks)
- For oral contraceptives, try to avoid taking combined oral contraceptive pills as they may affect the volume of milk you produce
- As for painkillers, avoid aspirin, but you can take paracetamol and ibuprofen.
- For a sore throat, you can take lozenges; however, you should avoid medicines that contain iodine
There are various measures you can take to minimize the risk of passing on the wrong kind of milk to your baby. For example, you can express your milk and discard it for the duration you are taking the medicine. You can also take the medicine in a different way, take the lowest dose necessary or take it after you feed the baby at a time when he or she isn’t likely to need to feed again for a few hours. The best thing to do is to talk to your doctor and ask them for the best way forward.
There are links in this article connecting readers to third party websites. Mum & Career does not accept any responsibility for, nor makes any representations as to the accuracy of, any content in such third party web sites. This article is not a substitute for medical advice; always consult your GP for any matters concerning yours or your baby’s health.