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What's the Deal with Breastfeeding and Medication?

Many breastfeeding women want to know if the medication they are taking is safe while breastfeeding. There are actually very few medications that are absolutely unsafe while breastfeeding. Most can be taken and for the ones that are questionable there are usually safer alternatives. Some medications can also cause issues with milk supply and most do enter into breast milk even if they are safe.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently advised that many breastfeeding women are wrongly advised to stop taking necessary medications. You can read more about the AAP's recommendations on breastfeeding and medication here, AAP Advises Most Medications Are Safe for Breastfeeding Mothers.

According to the AAP, the medications most likely to cause problems include pain medications, antidepressants, drugs to treat substance or alcohol abuse, and smoking cessation drugs. Vaccines that you receive are safe.


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Personal Experience

I have taken allergy pills, pain relievers, cold medicine, and antibiotics while breastfeeding and never had issues. Allergy and cold medications may lower milk supply but they seem to be fine once breastfeeding and milk supply is established.

I recently had an incident where I had to have my eyes dilated. I have been avoiding having my eyes dilated for years because I was either pregnant or breastfeeding. Finally, it was time. I had to have it done and I was still breastfeeding.

The optometrist insisted that I must pump and dump my breast milk for hours after the procedure. I really felt like this was wrong and once I got home and did a little research on the medication used (yes, I did the research with dilated eyes.. ouch) I found this was wrong and the medication was most likely fine.

I have heard of this happening a lot to many moms. I think doctors usually want to err on the side of caution, protect themselves, and they just don't know much about breastfeeding and medication.

I have also checked with my OB or my baby's pediatrician when I am really unsure. I recommend you always double check before taking anyone's word for it that you need to pump and dump your breast milk or stop taking medication that you need.

Here are some other resources you can use:


Run by the National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, you can look up almost any medication here and read about the affects on breastfeeding. This is a recommended resource by the AAP.

InfantRisk Center

A great resource for information on medications while pregnant and breastfeeding. They have a phone number you can call for help. "We are now open to answer calls Monday-Friday 8am-5pm central time. Please contact us at (806)-352-2519"


A resource where you can get information on medication use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 1-877-439-2744-Motherisk Helpline.


Almost all medications are safe to take while breastfeeding. Check about all medications you are taking with your baby's pediatrician, your OB/GYN, or an online database. Some medications do affect milk supply and most enter breast milk in small quantities.

Please let me know if you have any questions and hopefully this information is helpful to you!