By Erin Rodriguez, Lactation Counselor
During the winter months there is an increase in the number of people getting sick. And as a new mom, you may be getting sick more often due to your lack of sleep. So, you go straight to the medicine cabinet. However, if you are a breastfeeding mother, the medicines you take may affect your milk. A great preventative measure is to ensure that everyone in your household over the age of 6 months receives their flu shot. It is safe for breastfeeding mothers and it help protect baby.
The first thing you need to do is talk to a medical professional about any medications or over-the counter drugs that you are thinking of taking, including vitamins and herbal supplements. If a doctor prescribes you something, remind him/her that you are breastfeeding and are concerned about how the medication will interact with your milk. If necessary, your doctor can write a different prescription. If a visit to the doctor isn’t required, and you just need to pick up an over-the-counter medicine, be sure to speak with the pharmacist since he/she has up-to-date information about breastfeeding and medicine.
Medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are typically safe to take while breastfeeding, as long as you follow the directions on the bottle. However, there is not much research on the effects of the medication on mother’s milk or her baby, so you should always check with a doctor prior to taking any medication while breastfeeding. A safe method for nasal congestion is frequent irrigation. Take a look for home remedies before looking to over-the counter options as many times they are just as effective or more. Many antibiotics are safe for breastfeeding, speak to the pharmacist when picking up the prescription or you may contact myself and I will assist you.
Pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in Sudafed, can prevent milk production altogether. Again, little research is available about the effects on the baby via breast milk, but there is enough research to show that this ingredient does hinder milk production.
Overall, when it comes to taking any medication or supplement, always check with a medical professional first, in order to keep your milk safe while helping you feel better. Remember, if you are sick, it is best to continue breastfeeding. Your body will produce antibodies in the milk that will help prevent baby from getting sick or help the infant fight sickness more quickly.