What medications are safe for breastfeeding moms?

A young mom holds her baby in her arms while smiling at him.

Protecting yourself and your baby

August is National Breastfeeding Month, so it’s the perfect time to talk about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding can help protect babies against short- and long-term illnesses and diseases. There are health benefits for the mother too, including reduced risk for certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

But what if you need to take a medication while you’re breastfeeding? You may be wondering if it’s safe for you and your baby.

Breast milk and prescription medications

Most medications pass through breast milk to some extent, so it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about any medications you’re taking and when new ones are prescribed. They can help you weigh the benefits and risks and let you know if any alternatives are available.

“Many moms try to be stoic,” says Ashley Pullium, a pharmacist with Express Scripts® Pharmacy and a mom of four young kids, all of whom she breastfed. “But you don’t want to feel miserable or compromise your own health for the benefits of breastfeeding.”

While the majority of medications have little or no effect on the health and well-being of the baby or the mother’s milk supply, it’s still important to check. There are rare circumstances when you should stop breastfeeding altogether while taking certain medications.

What about over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements?

Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about any medications or supplements you’re taking or planning to take, including vitamins, herbs, and over-the-counter products. It’s generally a good idea to avoid taking any unnecessary medications while breastfeeding.

A quick note about COVID-19 vaccines and breastfeeding

There have been a lot of questions about COVID-19 vaccines and whether it’s safe to get vaccinated while breastfeeding. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant and recently pregnant women are more likely to have severe illness from COVID-19.

Unfortunately there’s no data yet on the safety or effects of the vaccine on breastfeeding women. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding women who received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies. But more data is needed to determine what protection these antibodies may provide to the baby.

Support whenever and wherever you need it

Specially trained pharmacists are available by phone 24/7 through Express Scripts® Pharmacy.

“So if you wake up in the middle of the night with a question, like all moms do, we’re here for you,” says Pullium.

For those who enjoy doing online research, LactMed® is a government-run database that has up-to-date information on medications and breastfeeding safety. It’s easy to use the search bar, and the site suggests alternatives when appropriate.

And for busy moms, Express Scripts® Pharmacy offers home delivery for routine medications, so you don’t have to drive to a retail pharmacy and wait in line.

Learn more about how we’re creating a simpler, better, and more personal pharmacy experience.

Posted date: August 20, 2021