Breastfeeding and Medication: Dispelling Myths

Breastfeeding and Medication: Dispelling Myths

Last update: 19 April, 2018

For many mothers, breastfeeding and medication are two words that can’t be linked at all.

Undoubtedly, it’s ideal for mothers to enjoy excellent health while nursing and not have any illnesses or diagnoses. But unfortunately, nothing is perfect.

There are many myths regarding this issue, and that it is possible to take medication while breastfeeding.

The key is to always follow your pediatrician’s instructions.

Breastfeeding and medication: dispelling myths

Our article aims to demystify pre-established general ideas in mothers about breastfeeding. We also want to make it clear that you should take any questions directly to your pediatrician.

Never consider online information as an authority on the topic.

According to various studies, about 80% of mothers in the breastfeeding stage should take a certain type of medication for various reasons.

Many of them stop the medications or breastfeeding for fear of side effects, all based on misinformation and false beliefs regarding this issue.

What many mothers don’t know is that most medications that doctors prescribe don’t penetrate the milk your baby drinks. Or their presence is practically imperceptible so there is no risk to the child.

In almost all cases, the amount of chemicals in milk after taking certain oral medications is so small that it could hardly be detected even by tests.

The same goes for topical medications such as corticosteroids, for example, or eye drops.

It is important, however, that the baby doesn’t have direct contact with the cream by touching the mother.

Breastfeeding and Medication: Dispelling Myths

Where do myths about breastfeeding and medication come from?

Almost all drugs on the market have the following phrase on the label: “If you are pregnant or nursing, consult your doctor before using this product.”

This information is absolutely pertinent. A doctor is the only one who can indicate whether it should be administered at all, and in what quantities or dosage schedules.

But if we pay enough attention, the warning indicates that you should “consult” the doctor, not that the medicine’s intake is off limits.

It is the legal duty of pharmaceutical companies to indicate if the product is contraindicated for breastfeeding mothers.

In such cases, the warning label must state the following: “Do not take if you are pregnant or may become pregnant, or are nursing. If its use is essential due to no alternative, breastfeeding should be temporarily suspended for the duration of the treatment.”

In the second sentence, clearly there is a prohibition. But despite this, it’s clear that the suspension of breastfeeding is temporary.

Breastfeeding and medication are two concepts that are often incompatible, but that is not always the case.

Closely reading the information provided in medical packages shouldn’t make us anxious or cause us to assume that breastfeeding should be suspended indefinitely.

Medications that can be taken by breastfeeding mothers

Many commonly used drugs have passed all the tests. It’s also been proven that their correct intake doesn’t cause any harm to the baby or affect milk production.

These medications are:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Paracetamol
  • Amoxicillin
  • Penicillin
  • Omeprazole
Breastfeeding and Medication: Dispelling Myths

Drugs prohibited during breastfeeding

The drugs highly prohibited for breastfeeding mothers are those aimed at eradicating cancer or those linked to AIDS.

There are also treatments that, although safe for the baby, should be taken following specific instructions because otherwise they could present some kind of inconvenience.

Acetaminophen, for example, appears on the list of safe medications but should be taken after breastfeeding or at least two hours before breastfeeding, as it’s believed to cause drowsiness in the baby.

Propanol for hypertension causes a decrease in milk production, although it doesn’t harm the baby.

The same effect is caused by contraceptive pills, which don’t cause harmful effects for the child’s health but hinder milk production.

Understanding that the problem often happens due to incorrectly reading medication instructions, you can feel more at ease when it comes to taking medications prescribed to you by your doctor.

Finally, it’s important to remember to never self-medicate for any reason.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.