Medications and Breastfeeding

many moms have questions about whether the medications they take can have an effect on breastfeeding and also their baby although most medications are safe to take while breastfeeding there are some that can be more of a concern than others there are many products that pass poorly into breast milk and other medications that are destroyed by the enzymes and acids in your stomach and your baby stomach some over-the-counter cold flu and allergy medications can contain different combinations of ingredients some that are safe and some that are not many medications used to treat depression and other mental illnesses are considered safe for breastfeeding but few are not over the last few years there's been a lot of research on medications and their use while a mother is breastfeeding it's important to discuss any questions you may have with your health care provider or pharmacist they can help explain the safety of a specific product and give you advice about which medications are best for your condition and safest for breastfeeding speak to an expert about any concerns you may have so that you make the best decision for you and your child all medications pass into the breast milk to some degree although it's almost always a small proportion of what the mother receives for the majority of the medications the dose that the baby receives is less than 1% of that received by the mother there's a great deal of evidence that suggests that the small amount of medication that gets to your baby is not a reason to stop breastfeeding among the questions you may want to discuss with your health care provider is whether or not the medication you're taking is even necessary at all perhaps you take higher doses of certain vitamins or herbal remedies because there is limited data about some of these products consider discussing their use to find out whether they presented it concerns if your healthcare providers advise is to discontinue a course of treatment you're currently following discuss what alternatives are available for your personal situation which don't present a risk for your baby premature babies babies who are ill or very young babies are at greatest risk when it comes to the potential presence of medication in breast milk an infant's ability to process certain medications usually improves as they grow and mature if the advice you receive is to continue taking your medication another important consideration is when and how often your baby feeds when you take your medication can be a challenge with babies who feed more often like every two hours around the clock with a baby who feeds less frequently especially at night taking your medication before the baby has a long sleep will reduce the amount your baby will receive through breast milk babies older than six months who have started in solid foods will gradually take less breast milk over time and will therefore be less affected by any medication that will be present in breast milk there is however a group of medications that need to be avoided while breastfeeding taking these creates a great risk to the baby these include radioactive compounds needed for medical testing certain anti-cancer medications or gold compounds for treating arthritis these may be necessary for a mother's health and would require stopping breastfeeding at least temporarily it's best to discuss these situations with your health care provider they'll work with you to find a solution that works best for you and your baby it goes without saying that recreational drugs are to be absolutely avoided when breastfeeding these are very dangerous to both mothers and babies when considering medications and breastfeeding it's a good idea to weigh the benefits against the rests talk to your health care provider not only about the risks and side effects a particular product will have in your own body but also what their impact will be on your baby's health the lower the risk the better for your child you can get more specific information about medications and breastfeeding by calling health connection or infant line or you can speak to a public health nurse at one of the Middlesex London health units well baby child and breastfeeding clinics public health nurses are there to answer any of your questions you may have to help achieve your breastfeeding goals they are knowledgeable about safe medications for breastfeeding and have access to reliable information and resources


  1. It would be nice to have one video about breastfeeding on methadone. 1% to 3% of the opiates pass through the breastmilk. But is that small amount going to cause withdrawal when they stop nursing?

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