People often instinctively avoid medications – both prescription and over-the-counter—when pregnant or breastfeeding.
The good news is that that most medications are safe for breastfeeding. The really good news is that you can easily look up medications and even environmental substances to see what’s known and what’s safe. (links below)
The best news of all is that there are dedicated researchers who continue to study the amazing attributes of breastmilk (the human variety in particular) and how some substances get through the mom’s body into the milk and how they affect babies. Dr. Thomas Hale of Texas Tech University is a champion in this field with his Infant Risk Center. You can even help, especially if you or a friend needs a medication that’s on the list of drugs under study and can provide breastmilk samples.
The bad news is that if you ask a medical provider, you may get poor advice! Many doctors, particularly in specialties that don’t see breastfeeding often (like urgent care, emergency and surgery) will advise mothers to stop breastfeeding either temporarily or permanently. The medical field is just starting to improve on its education and advocacy for breastmilk, including the risks to babies who aren’t breastfed.
Here’s where you can go for accurate information when you need it:
www.mothertobaby.org This FREE source is super handy. You can email them, call, text or IM on any substance exposure, including medications. The University of Arizona is part of their team!
https://www.infantrisk.com/apps Dr. Hale and the Infant Risk Center have up-to-date apps that are really handy. It summarizes information on medication safety for pregnancy and breastfeeding. This is the one I recommend to professional colleagues – it’s one of the few “paid” apps I keep!
The Arizona Breastfeeding Hotline: 1-800-833-4642 There’s a lactation consultant always available to answer your question, even in the middle of the night. It’s a FREE call, and the lactation consultant can talk to you about any questions or subjects related to breastfeeding at any stage.
The Babymoon Inn Midwives! Just give us a call, we’ll be happy to chat about your question.
Olga Ryan MS-NL, RN
Director, Babymoon Inn Tucson
Olga has been in Perinatal nursing since 1995 and in birth center nursing since 2006.