You may wonder if it is safe to take prescription or over the counter medications while breastfeeding or whether it is wiser to avoid all medications during this time. In almost all cases it is safe to continue breastfeeding while taking medications.
Medications and Breast Milk
Most medications will get into your breast milk but only in small amounts. Generally medications are considered safe if they are commonly prescribed to infants. The amount your baby receives through your breast milk is less than if your baby had been given the medication directly.
When taking medications while breastfeeding speak to your health care professional about the timing of taking the medication or take the medication immediately after breastfeeding to minimize your baby’s exposure.
If you are taking medications while breastfeeding watch your baby for unusual signs and symptoms such as changes in eating, sleeping, fussiness, rash etc. If you notice any changes contact your health care professional.
What if I have to stop breastfeeding?
If a medication is harmful while breastfeeding ask your health care professional to prescribe another medication that is safe to use during breastfeeding. If there is no acceptable substitute stop breastfeeding temporarily.
Prior to starting a medication that you know is not considered safe while breastfeeding, you can express and store your breast milk to use during the time you are on the medication.
If you are told you need to stop breastfeeding temporarily, express or pump your breast milk. Express 8 or more times in 24 hours to maintain your breast milk supply. Discard your breast milk and continue to express or pump until you are able to breastfeed again.
To be safe check with your health care professional before taking prescriptions or over the counter medications. You can also visit our Breastfeeding Clinics or connect with one of our Public Health Nurses via eChat or call (416) 338-7600.