Breastfeeding and medicines

Breastfeeding and medicines


  • Check with your GP or chemist about the suitability of any medications you take while your breastfeed.
  • Most medications do get into your breast milk, but usually at in such tiny quantities that they're not harmful to your baby.
  • There are usually acceptable alternatives available for the few drugs that cannot be taken while you breastfeed. Talk to your GP about these.
  • The amount of medication found in breast milk is determined by how much of it is in your bloodstream - which is dictated by the size of the dose, the frequency of dose and how the medication works.
  • Check how medications interact if you and your baby are both taking different medications.
  • Check if your medication will have an impact on the quantity of milk your body will make.
  • Herbal medicines and teas aren't necessarily a 'safe' alternative to prescribed or over the counter drug; many are not suitable for babies.
  • Try to avoid 'long-acting' medications as these will stay in your blood stream longer.
  • Medications that are inhaled or used topically are safer than those taken intravenously or orally as less gets into the blood stream.
  • Avoid taking any medication containing pseudoephedrine, as it may make your baby irritable.
  • Avoid taking aspirin while you breastfeed -paracetamol and ibuprofen are safe to use for managing pain.



If you have any questions about a medicine of any sort, check with your doctor or chemist. If you have an urgent concern you can ring the Poisons Information Centre 0800 POISON for more information.


Breastfeeding and antidepressants:

Antidepressants are often recommended to new mothers suffering ongoing depression after birth.

  • Antidepressants like other drugs will pass into your breast milk, but usually in tiny quantities.
  • The act of breastfeeding is usually regarded as a mood enhancer and so that if you are suffering from depression it is recommended that you continue to breastfeed.
  • There are a variety of antidepressants that have no affect on your baby (both at the time of taking, and in the years to follow), so ask your GP about these.

Breastfeeding and asthma:

  • You need to have good control of your asthma to care for yourself and your baby adequately.
  • Most inhaled asthma preventers and relievers will have no affect on your milk supply or your baby, but discuss your particular medications with your GP before taking them while you breastfeed.

Common Sense Advice. Share your experiences, tips and advice on the Kidspot Forum.

This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot. Sources include SA Government's Parenting and Child Health.

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