Meds and Breastfeeding

Sneezing? Take a decongestant. Headache? Pop a pain reliever. Ear infection? Maybe an antibiotic is in order. But when a woman is nursing, the should-I-medicate questions are tougher. Watch this before reaching for the medicine cabinet.


-Hi, I'm Kimberly Durdin. I'm a board certified lactation consultant and I've been helping moms breastfeed for over 20 years. You might be wondering if I'm breastfeeding and need to take a prescription drug or medication, can I still nurse? Well, that's a great question. A lot of moms are concerned if they have a headache or even if they need antibiotics will they have to wean their babies during the time that they're taking medication. The short answer is no. Most drugs are compatible with breastfeeding. All drugs do pass into breast milk, but most drugs pass in at a rate of less than 1% per maternal-- per the maternal dose so that means when a mom is taking something like Tylenol or some other type of medication, less than 1% of that drug is actually getting into the breast milk so the baby is getting some of the drug, yes, but at a very tiny, tiny amount. It's important to find out though for sure if a drug is compatible with breastfeeding and sometimes moms will ask their doctors or their pediatricians and many times they'll just hear no. If you're taking a certain drug, you absolutely cannot breastfeed. I actually send moms to the Infant Risk Center for information on drug compatibility. Infant Risk Center is a center operated by a pharmacologist who specializes in breastfeeding medicine. By going to the website,, you can get an information on particular medications and drugs and their effect on breastfeeding and pregnancy. You could also call the center to get one on one personal information and advice on whether or not a drug is safe to take while breastfeeding. There are some drugs that are not compatible with breastfeeding, very few of them, but they are-- but they are out there so it doesn't hurt to just double check. If you happen to need surgery or have some other type of medical procedure, maybe it's even a dental appointment and you're concerned about the drugs that you're going to be given during the procedure, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant and they can help guide you through the different drugs and medications and help you find out which ones are safe for breastfeeding and also how to minimize your baby's separation from you while you're having surgery or procedure. -I hope this gives you more information about breastfeeding while taking medication. Thanks for watching.

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