What Are Some Medicines To Avoid When Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding Question: What Medication Should I Avoid When Breastfeeding?

There is a lot of contradicting information about what medication is safe to take while breastfeeding. As with any medicine, if you are unsure check with your lactation consultant before taking any medication. Even over the counter medicines can have a dramatic affect on the quantity, quality and taste of your breast milk. Here is a partial list of common medications that are breastfeeding contradictions and the reasons to avoid them:

  • Antibacterials – These are on the list as a caution. Some are safe many cause diarrhea, thrush, rash, bloody stools, or other problems.
  • Antidepressants – Drowsiness is the most common effect on your child. Especially avoid ones with phenelzine and tranylcypromine
  • Antifungals – The ingredient ketoconazole poses risk for liver damage.
  • Antihistamines – May reduce your breast milk supply and cause drowsiness or fussiness in your child. Be especially careful to avoid cetirizine.
  • Anti-inflammatory – Ibuprofen is generally safe, many others are unsafe for children under one year due to increased risk of Reyes Syndrome.
  • Aspirin – Can cause Reyes syndrome and bleeding.
  • Chemotherapy - Very toxic to breastfeeding children, even in small amounts.
  • Decongestants – Oral decongestants can cause fussiness in your child.
  • Diuretics – Can suppress your lactation and reduce breast milk supply.
  • Heart and blood pressure medication – Most seem safe but ones with acebutolol, atenolol, nadolol, sotalol, or timolol may accumulate to toxic levels in your babies blood.
  • Hormones – Hormone contraceptives can interfere with lactation and breast milk production if taken in the first six weeks after preganancy.
  • Narcotics – If given during labor they may inhibit lactation.  Can cause drowsiness in nursing babies.
  • Pepto-Bismol - Salicylates ingredients cause an increased risk of Reyes Syndrome and can be toxic to nursing babies.
  • Tranquilizers – May make your child drowsy, avoid any with clozapine which can decrease white blood count.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of medicines to avoid while breastfeeding.  Be sure to talk to your lactation consultant before taking anything while you are breastfeeding.

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