The tables on this page list medications in three categories:
- Common medications that are safe to use while breastfeeding
- Drugs that require careful monitoring by a physician when taken while breastfeeding
- Drugs that should not be used while breastfeeding.
Talking with your health professional about any medication you take is very important, and a nursing mother should always remind her physician that she is breastfeeding when decisions are being made about medications.
If you need additional information about a medication, or if you need information about a medication not listed in these tables, please consult additional sources of information.
The safety of the following medications is established for short-term use only. If you are required to take one of these for more than one or two weeks, consult a physician.
|acetaminophen||asthma medications (cromolyn, inhalant bronchodilators)||Kaopectate|
|anesthetics local (e.g., dental work)||chloroquine (antimalarial)||muscle relaxants|
|antibiotics (tetracycline* and sulfa**)||decongestants||propranolol|
|anticonvulsants||diuretics||silicone from implants|
|* Avoid taking tetracycline for longer than ten days
** Avoid in newborn period
Whether these drugs and medications are safe to take while breastfeeding depends on many factors: the dosage, age of infant, duration of therapy, and timing of dosage and breastfeeding. Consult a physician knowledgeable about drugs during breastfeeding if you need to take any of the following medications long-term.
|* It is safe to breastfeed six to twelve hours after most general anesthetics. ** Some authorities consider lithium absolutely contraindicated while breastfeeding; others believe lithium can be used cautiously, as long as blood lithium concentration in the baby is monitored. *** Authorities recommend giving the mother a single two-gram dose and having her discontinue breastfeeding for only twelve to twenty-four hours.|
|antimetabolite drugs (anti-cancer drugs)||Lindane||nicotine|
|radioactive drugs for diagnostic tests*|
|* May need to stop breastfeeding temporarily. Consult a nuclear medicine specialist.|
American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs. The transfer of drugs and other chemicals into human milk. Pediatrics 1994; 93:137-50. Reprinted in The Breastfeeding Answer Book, rev. ed. by N. Mohrbacher and J. Stock. Schaumburg, IL: La Leche League International, 1997, 525- 538. (Most La Leche League Leaders have access to this book and will read the information about a specific drug to you over the phone.)
Briggs, G., Freeman, R., and Yaffe, S. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation, 4th ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkings, 1994.
Hale, T. Medications and Mother’s Milk, 7th ed. Amarillo, TX: Pharmasoft, 1998-99. (Order from LLLI, or see Dr. Hale’s website at http://neonatal.ttuhsc.edu/lact/index.html)
Lawrence, R. Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, 5th ed. St. Louis: Mosby, 1999.
US Pharmacopeial Convention. United States Pharmacoepia Dispensing Information: Drug Information for the Health Care Professional, 16th ed. Rockville, Maryland: US Pharmacopeial Convention, 1996.