Chat with us?
Open Chat
You can ask us anything in real-time in our Live Chat!
Open Chat

Breastfeeding Facts: Can I Take Medications?

Whatsapp
Breastfeeding Facts: Can I Take Medications? undefined

To all the mothers out there, Happy World Breastfeeding Week!


When it comes to pregnancy and childcare, people around you would often claim to be “masters” and give different kinds of information. It is annoying and confusing, but you cannot help but think about it. After all, your child’s safety could be in jeopardy.

I know for one that a lot of DoctorxDentist readers feel the same way. This post will discuss the risks and considerations involved in taking medication while breastfeeding.

Can I take medications?

breastfeeding-medication-types

This is arguably the most debated question of all time. The answer: depends.

People are mostly concerned because some substances in the medication can be transferred to breastmilk. In reality, most medications are safe to take while breastfeeding.

However, note that there are different types of medications, all with different substances. They have:

  • Different target organs
  • Different absorption rates within the body
  • Different absorption rates in adult and infant

which is why there is no definitive answer to whether or not medications pose risks to the infant. You should always consult your doctor before taking any medication.

The amount of drugs that diffused into the breastmilk is usually small and unlikely to cause adverse effects on the infant. Thus, it is generally not necessary to suspend breastfeeding because of medication consumptions. Also, common medication with larger molecules such as Heparin and Insulin will not be transferred into breast milk [1].

Medication to avoid

breastfeeding-medications-to-avoid

Data from: Drugs in breastfeeding [1]

At the same time, there are still certain drugs that will require complete cessation of breastfeeding. This is because some substances may cause excessive drowsiness or difficulty breathing in the baby.

This includes amiodarone, antineoplastics, gold salts, opioids, and radiopharmaceuticals. You can see the picture above for more information.

You should be extra careful if long-term medication is necessary [2]. On top of those mentioned above, medications containing Iodine and Lithium should be avoided at all costs [1].

Infant’s age and their ability to metabolise

breastfeeding-infants-abilitity-mebolise-drugs

Data from: Drugs Safety in Lactation [3]

The younger the infant, the lower their ability to clear drugs out of their system. As your infant grows up, their ability to filter out drugs adjusts according to their body surface area – meaning they are more capable to clear drugs. Most adverse effects of medications are most commonly found only in infants less than 2 months old [1].

Choose medications with a shorter half-life

breastfeeding-shorter-halflifes

The half-life of medications refers to the amount of time they take to reduce to 50% of its original concentration in our bloodstream. Short half-life medications usually take action quickly and their effects may wear off rapidly. The shorter the half-life, the faster it clears from your system.

It is quite important because it means that they are less likely to be found in breastmilk [3]. Even so, request the lowest effective dose of the medication whenever possible.

Take medication right after breastfeeding

mother-breastfeeding-baby-photo

The risks drugs pose to the infant is based on the concentration of drugs in the breastmilk and the effects of the drug to the infant.

To minimize the risks, it is thus important to note when you take your medication. As a general rule, it is recommended that you take the necessary medications right after breastfeeding. This allows enough time for the drug to clear out before the next feeding session [2].

At times, medications can be a necessity rather than a choice

female-taking-pills-photo

You can be assured that most medications are safe to consume. You can also minimize the risks by following the tips mentioned above.

Safety is always of utmost importance and you should always take note of your baby's reaction during breastfeeding. Monitor them for any possible adverse effects such as sedation or irritability [3].

Consult your doctor and discuss the workings of your medications before taking them. If necessary, you can also alternate between breastfeeding and bottle feeding.


Want to read more about breastfeeding?

Find doctors' answers under our Pregnancy and Women's Health topic page!

 

Would you like to ask any related health questions?

You can Ask A Doctor right away, or view the complete list of DxD Sessions.


References

1. Hotham N, Hotham E. Drugs in breastfeeding. Australian Prescriber. 2015;38(5):156-159. doi:10.18773/austprescr.2015.056 ‌

2. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Drug entry into Human Milk. Infantrisk.com. Published 2019. Accessed August 1, 2019.‌

3. Drug Safety in Lactation. Govt.nz. Published 2019. Accessed August 1, 2019.‌

512 views 1 Aug 2019 Medically reviewed by DxD on 1 Aug 2019.
Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other answers tagged Women's Health Pregnancy or ask your own question now FOR FREE.
Consult Doctors. FREE.
Real Doctors, Expert Answers
Connect with Facebook Connect with Google For Doctors
By creating an account, you are indicating that you have read and accepted the DoctorxDentist Terms of Use.
Consult Doctors. FREE.
Real Doctors, Expert Answers
By creating an account, you are indicating that you have read and accepted the DoctorxDentist Terms of Use.
Registration Progress
Step 1: Indicate Topics of Interests
Step 2: Follow Relevant Doctors
Complete!
What are your interests?
Please select at least 3 interests.
NEXT
NEXT
Registration Progress
Step 1: Indicate Topics of doctors
Step 2: Follow Relevant Doctors
Complete!
Follow your favourite doctors
We found some doctors you may like. Click continue to follow them.
CONTINUE
CONTINUE
Consult Doctors. FREE.
Real Doctors, Expert Answers
Continue with Facebook Continue with Google

or

Disclaimer: Any answers provided are for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

Continue with Facebook Continue with Google

Disclaimer: Any answers provided are for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

YOUR QUESTION HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

YOUR QUESTION

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

YOUR ANSWER HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

YOUR ANSWER

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

YOUR QUOTE REQUEST HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

OUR DOCTORS WILL GET BACK TO YOU SHORTLY!

YOUR QUOTE REQUEST

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

OUR DOCTORS WILL GET

BACK TO YOU SHORTLY!

YOUR THREAD HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY CREATED.

HEAD OVER TO FORUM PAGE NOW

TO JOIN THE DISCUSSION

YOUR THREAD

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

CREATED.

HEAD OVER TO THE FORUM PAGE NOW

TO JOIN THE DISCUSSION!

YOUR REVIEW HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

THANK YOU.

YOUR REVIEW

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

THANK YOU.

YOUR EMAIL HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBSCRIBED.

THANK YOU.

YOUR EMAIL

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBSCRIBED.

THANK YOU.

YOUR CONSULTATION HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

OUR DOCTORS WILL

GET BACK TO YOU SHORTLY.

YOUR CONSULTATION

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

OUR DOCTORS

WILL GET

TO YOU

SHORTLY.

MESSAGES TO