Taking medication while breastfeeding

Many illnesses can be treated while you are breastfeeding without harming your baby. Small amounts of whatever medicines you take will pass through your breastmilk to your baby, so always tell your doctor, dentist or pharmacist that you are breastfeeding.

Medicines that can be taken while breastfeeding

Medicines that can be taken while breastfeeding include:

  • most antibiotics
  • common painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen (but not aspirin)
  • hay fever medicines such as loratadine and cetirizine
  • cough medicines (provided they don’t make you drowsy)
  • asthma inhalers
  • normal doses of vitamins

If you do need any medication, try to find out before you take it that it is safe to use while breastfeeding. Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to advise you.

Potential side effects of your medication

Always watch your baby for any potential side effects from your medication such as:

  • poor feeding
  • change in bowel movements
  • drowsiness and irritability

If you notice your baby showing any side effects, stop taking the medication and get advice from your doctor, pharmacist or health visitor as soon as possible.

You can use some methods of contraception, but not all, so check with your GP or pharmacist before deciding what method is best for you.

It’s fine to have dental treatments, local anaesthetics, injections (including injections for measles, mumps and rubella, tetanus and flu vaccines) and most types of operations. You can also dye, perm or straighten your hair, use fake tan and wear false nails.

Non-prescribed and illegal drugs

 If you are breastfeeding and you take any drugs that have not been prescribed to you, including any illegal drugs, it is very important that you get the right advice. Talk to your midwife, health visitor or doctor, as your baby’s health could be at risk.

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