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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Can I Take Medicine While Breastfeeding?

One of the most asked questions from new moms is, “Can I take medicine while breastfeeding?” It’s understandable. After all, if spicy foods can alter your breast milk, what on earth might an antidepressant or cold medication do?

Let’s look at what happens when you take medicine during lactation.

Can I Take Medicine While Breastfeeding?

Can I Take Medicine While Breastfeeding?

Well, it depends.

Pretty much all medications are transferred into breast milk to some degree. But, not all medicines are found in clinically significant amounts in a mother’s milk. To put it another way, it’s probable that your baby is hardly getting any of your medicine at all.

Sometimes it comes down to a choice for the doctor and patient. Do the benefits of the medication given to the mother outweigh the potential risks for baby?

Doctors can explain in great detail things like “maternal concentrations” and “pharmacokinetics of the drug in the infant.” But if you simply want to know whether you can take a Tylenol for your sore breasts, or a Claritin for your horrible allergies, we can help with some answers for you.

Taking Medicine While Breastfeeding

Let me stress again, I’m not a doctor. I don’t want to tell you it’s okay to use a decongestant nasal spray only to find out later that it was a terrible idea. (It’s probably not a terrible idea. It’s actually pretty safe.)

The truth is, the CDC has declared that most medications and immunizations are safe to take when you’re breastfeeding. There are caveats, though. If your baby is a preemie or in some way not as healthy as the doctor would like, all bets are off.

Examples of Safe Medicines While Breastfeeding

Use your best judgement, but these will not transfer in dangerous amounts through your breast milk to your baby:

Most (but not all) antidepressants (Lamotrigine aka Lamictal, for example, are not safe)

Is it okay to take medicine while breastfeeding?

Quick tips for taking medicine while breastfeeding

  • Feed baby right before you take a dose if possible.
  • If you are prescribed a “not safe” drug for a short term, you can pump before you start the med and store up milk. While you’re taking the medication, you can express and then discard milk until your doctor says it’s safe to breastfeed again.
  • Be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary or concerning.
  • Is your baby fussier than normal, or lethargic in a way that seems different to you? Any vomiting? Diarrhea? Refusing food? Call your doctor.


In closing, you’re probably not going to turn your breast milk into some manner of toxic formula if you have a headache and want some relief. Trust what your doc and pharmacist say and, by the way, what your own mama instincts tell you. You’re a smart mom. You don’t need someone in a white coat to tell you not to take an opioid while you’re breastfeeding. (Or honestly, any other time. That’s nasty stuff.)

To help you make decisions about taking medicine while breastfeeding, definitely bookmark LactMed. It will save you lots of stress and alleviate most any fears you have about taking medicine while breastfeeding.

By the way, all parents should have the number for Poison Control somewhere that’s readily available. Better yet, program it in your phone.  (800) 222-1222

Just because you’re breastfeeding doesn’t mean you have to avoid medicine completely. Equip yourself with knowledge and resources, talk to a medical professional you trust, and listen to your instincts. Ultimately, you get to decide what’s best for the health of you and your baby.

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