Medications and Breast Feeding

One of the most frustrating things I have experienced in my years of counseling breast feeding families is the incorrect advice given about medications and breast feeding.  Let me try to clear up some of the misconceptions…..

There are only a couple of medications that are not compatible with breast feeding – street drugs, of course, chemotherapy and Cipro.

Remember, pharmaceutical companies own formula companies.  So it is in the best interest of the pharmaceuticals to have you formula feed.  All of the product inserts for medications say not to breast feed while taking the medication.  Ask most pharmacists for advice and they will direct you to the product insert and of course, you will likely go with that advice…DON’T!!!

Let me give you a few examples……a mom has a cesarean birth, with a general anesthetic and is given pain medication both IV and orally after the surgery. She is also encouraged to breast feed her infant as soon after the birth as possible.
A new mom goes into the hospital to have outpatient surgery. She has a general anesthetic and is given pain medication. She is told she must stop breast feeding while she is on pain medication. She tried to pump but is not able to pump often enough to keep up her milk supply. She infant gets bottles of formula and mom gives up breast feeding. Formula wins.
Mom is given an antibiotic for a sore throat. Mom gets prescription filled at local pharmacy and asks pharmacist if she can breast feed while on medication. Pharmacist checks package insert……….you know the rest by now.
Let’s talk reality…..again, most medications are fine to take while breast feeding. Unfortunately, it is easier for the people you check with to tell you to stop breast feeding than to take the time to counsel you correctly. I am not saying that all doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc. are giving incorrect information, but most are.
Breast feeding is not profitable for the medical profession as I have said before, so medical professionals are not taught much about how to make it successful when they are in school. I studied and took the certification exam given by the International Board of Lactation Consultants. It is a very difficult test which many, if not most, physicians could not pass. I have a passion for assisting breast feeding families and feel there is nothing more rewarding than watching the look on a breast feeding moms face when she is successful.
So, the moral of this blog, if you are told to stop breast feeding because of a medication – get accurate advice. There are a few reputable websites and books. Or ask a certified lactation consultant. I am always happy to research for you. Email me at and I will try to assist you.
Next blogs will include prenatal preparation for breast feeding and how to treat thrush in mom and baby. Please let me know what you would like to read about – should I write more about pregnancy and childbirth???????


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