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Can I breastfeed while I’m on Medications?

If you ask woman about medications, drugs or alcohol during pregnancy, the vast majority will tell you that they try to avoid all of the above while they are pregnant. But what about after childbirth? That important period where you’re breastfeeding, an important period for bonding and to help the baby’s immune system. Well things aren’t as clear as black and white when it comes to medication and breastfeeding, and some mothers have medical conditions where medication is essential for a good quality of life.

Do drugs stay a long time in breastmilk?

The easy answer to this question is that every drug acts differently and this will also depend on a woman’s drug metabolism, a baby’s age and how much of his diet is made out of breastmilk. Basically you have to discuss every drug with your prescribing doctor and your baby’s pediatrician.

Are Antibiotics safe during breastfeeding?

Antibiotics are usually given for a good reason, to treat the mother for an infection which could otherwise worsen. Most antibiotics are safe during breastfeeding even though some can cause diarrhea and thrush in their nursing babies. As an example, penicillins (amoxicillin, ampicillin) and cephalosporins (Cephalexin) are considered safe. The prescribing doctor and the pharmacist will make sure the antibiotic you get is a safe one for breastfeeding.

Is it safe to take Cold medicine and breastfeeding?

Cold medicine have three active ingredients. Dextromethorphan, doesn’t cause any side effect, but it doesn’t really work either. Pseudophedrine, doesn’t work to help with symptoms, but it will lower your breast milk production. The third is codeine, which doesn’t really work, and is dangerous to the baby during the breastfeeding period. Codeine is metabolised into Morphine by the mother which then passes through breastmilk to the baby. In a baby Morphine can cause breathing issues and even death in the in the first weeks of life. Consequently it is advisable for nursing mothers to discuss all OTC (over-the-counter) medication with their doctor or pharmacist before taking it.

Breastfeeding and mood medication

After childbirth, parents can experience depression, commonly called postpartum depression. Available studies seem to show that the use antidepressant during nursing period is safe.

On the other hand, Scientific literature is limited when it comes to the safety of anxiety medication while breastfeeding.

In both cases, treating the mother is a priority and can generally be done while safely continuing breastfeeding, under the supervision of your doctor.

What Pain medication can I take with breastfeeding ?

Let’s start with the easy part, Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Advil) are both safe during breastfeeding.

However, when it comes to stronger medications like Opioids are not safe for nursing mothers to take, since they can cause sedation, respiratory distress or even withdrawal symptoms in babies who are exposed to these drugs through their mother’s milk.

Even Naproxen which is a moderately strong NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) should not be taken by breastfeeding mothers.

List of drugs contraindicated in breastfeeding mothers

Mothers shouldn’t have to choose between treating an illness and breastfeeding your child. Breastfeeding mothers should discuss all potential medication with their doctor or pharmacist, including oral medical, creams or puffers. Resources such as LactMed databate app can be consulted by anyone to verify the safety of a medication with breastfeeding.

Let’s talk about the Breastfeeding and medication safety

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