Breastfeeding and Medication: Compatible Drugs

October 21, 2020
Your doctor will confirm that most medication is compatible with breastfeeding. Don't let it stop you from breastfeeding your baby and letting them enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding unless it is strictly necessary.

During pregnancy, pregnant women should limit medication intake as much as possible and strictly take only those prescribed by their doctor. However, the question arises as to whether they should apply the same limitations during breastfeeding. Do you know if there’s any medication that’s compatible with breastfeeding? Keep reading to find out.

Breastfeeding and medication

There’s no better way of feeding children during their first months of life. The multiple benefits of breastfeeding are well-known by most:

  • Contains all the necessary nutrients for the correct development of the baby
  • Provides antibodies that protect against infections, diarrhea, allergies and other conditions
  • Easy to digest
  • Reduces constipation
  • Promotes lifelong good health

In addition, breastfeeding also benefits the mother. To name a few, it can reduce the risk of developing:

  • Breast and ovarian cancer
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Postpartum depression
  • Anemia
  • Osteoporosis
Baby breastfeeding.
In many cases, health professionals highly recommended breastfeeding because of its benefits for the baby and the mother.

For all these reasons, it’s important that mothers know that breastfeeding is the best option. New mothers should also understand that they shouldn’t stop breastfeeding unless it’s due to a serious concern.

Thus, taking certain medications isn’t an excuse to stop breastfeeding. We’re sure that many women think that while they’re breastfeeding, what they ingest can be passed on to the baby, just like when they’re pregnant. Therefore, they think that when they’re taking medication, the best option is to stop breastfeeding.

However, this is a mistake. Very few drugs interfere with breastfeeding, so it’s perfectly safe to take them while breastfeeding your child. In any case, it’s always up to the doctor to determine whether the medication is compatible with breastfeeding. So don’t hesitate to ask your physician what they think is best.

Also, keep in mind that we often resort to using drugs to treat discomfort that can actually be overcome without the need to take medication. For that reason, while breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid taking medication unless necessary.

We recommend reading: How to Store Breast Milk

What medication is compatible with breastfeeding?

Some medication.
Some medication such as paracetamol and certain groups of antibiotics are compatible with breastfeeding.

To determine if the drug you’re taking is compatible with breastfeeding, we suggest visiting your doctor and asking them. However, as we said before, it’s possible to take most medicine during breastfeeding:

  • Paracetamol doesn’t cause any problems. However, as you know, excessive drug intake is not recommended. Therefore, it’s better not to take it unless absolutely necessary.
  • Some groups of antibiotics are also compatible with breastfeeding. In this case, your doctor will tell you which antibiotic to take to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding.
  • Insulin won’t cause any problems either. In fact, almost all hormones can be administered during these months, except for estrogen, which could reduce breast milk production. So, ask your doctor about hormonal contraception if you wish to start taking it.
  • In the prescribed doses, almost all antithyroid, anti-epileptic, anti-rheumatic, inflammatory bowel disease drugs and various immunosuppressants are also compatible.
  • If you have to go to the dentist, you should know that the local anesthesia and the antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs that they prescribe won’t affect breastfeeding either.

We recommend reading: Five Safe Medications to Take during Pregnancy

What medication can’t I take?

The Spanish Association of Pediatrics indicates that during breastfeeding, the following shouldn’t be taken:

  • Some anticoagulants
  • Derivatives of ergotamine for the treatment of migraines, since they inhibit prolactin
  • Antineoplastics
  • Psychopharmaceuticals
  • Drugs (amfetamines, cocaine, alcohol, etc)
  • Medication with high iodine content
  • Anti-cancer drugs

Use of compatible drugs while breastfeeding

A doctor prescribing medication.
If you have any doubts, ask your doctor about taking medication during breastfeeding.

Although most medication isn’t contraindicated, we should always rely on the advice of our physician to ensure that there isn’t any problem or risk to either mother or infant.

The following should be taken into account:

  • We should always be cautious when taking any medication. For this reason, when suffering minor ailments and conditions that can be overcome without resorting to medication, it’s best to avoid taking anything.
  • If the baby or mother has certain health problems (e.g. kidney problems, glucose-6-phosphate-DH deficiency), the list of medication that’s compatible with breastfeeding may be much shorter. This is why you must consult your physician.
  • You shouldn’t self-medicate, either while breastfeeding or during any other period of your life. Avoid using medication that hasn’t been prescribed by a doctor.
  • Don’t stop breastfeeding unless there’s a good reason to do so.

In short, breastfeeding offers multiple benefits for mother and child. There’s a list of medications you can take while you’re breastfeeding, so consult your doctor to make sure they’re safe and don’t stop benefiting from the most natural nurturing possible: breastfeeding.

  • Organización Mundial de la Salud, Breastfeeding and maternal medication, 2002. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/62435/55732.pdf;jsessionid=C72F0DB02D555DBABDFD6EA2D26FB167?sequence=1
  • Neil Hotham, Elizabeth Hotham, “Drugs in breastfeeding”, Aust Prescr. 2015 Oct; 38(5): 156–159.
  • J.M. Paricio Talayero, J.J. Lasarte Velillas, “Lactancia y medicamentos: Una compatibilidad casi siempre posible”, Comité de Lactancia de la Asociación Española de Pediatría, s.f. https://www.aeped.es/sites/default/files/documentos/lm_medicamentos.pdf