Helen Anderson, RN, CLE

Medications and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding & Prescription DrugsWhen a nursing mom gets prescribed medication, doctors usually put the brakes on breastfeeding. A review of the information provided by the medication manufacturer shows that 80% of available medications are not recommended for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Researchers suggest this recommendation is not based on any data about real risk, but is easier than proving it is safe for the small population of breastfeeding patients.

This leaves mothers in the position of weighing the risks of avoiding an important medication treatment for herself against formula feeding her infant. Research shows, most doctors take the conservative approach and discourage mothers they prescribe medication from breastfeeding. New data shows this approach harms infants by depriving them of breast milk unnecessarily, and drug levels in breast milk are minuscule, resulting in no observable long-term negative effects.

To learn about compatibility of medications and breastfeeding, refer to the free and easy to use database of medication and mother's milk, LactMed. With 450+ medications listed, there is information about drug levels in milk, infant blood and possible adverse reactions. Also listed are possible alternative therapies for mothers and doctors to consider.