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Is it okay to take medication while breastfeeding?

Often breastfeeding mothers need to take medication. Many medications, if taken in the proper doses, are safe for you and your baby. However, there are some that are not recommended. Always check with your doctor before taking any medication. Also note that birth control pills and pseudoephedrine may reduce milk supply.

Some common medications that are safe for nursing mothers are:
  • over-the-counter painkillers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • many antibiotics
  • some over-the-counter cold medicines
Narcotic medications -- such as Tylenol #3, Vicodin, Norco, Percocet and Lortab -- should be used with caution when breastfeeding. Infants younger than 6 weeks of age or less than 5 pounds are especially sensitive to narcotics and can have trouble breathing or become too sleepy to feed adequately.

To reduce this risk, take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) only after your baby is five days old and exactly as you’ve been instructed. If your pain is still not relieved and you decide to take a prescribed narcotic pain reliever, nurse your baby prior to taking the narcotic. Remember that narcotics are prescribed for incision pain and are not intended to manage the pain of engorgement, damaged nipples, constipation or hemorrhoids. If your incision pain or cramps suddenly
become more intense, call your doctor. Remind your doctor that you’re breastfeeding.

Finally, never share prescription medication with others.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.