What are the “ground rules”?

You can make breast-feeding as safe as possible for your baby by taking these steps:

• A medication that is safe for use during pregnancy may not be safe during breast-feeding, so check with your doctor after the baby is born.

• Medications that are safe for an infant to use are generally safe for nursing mothers, but, again, check with your doctor.

• Consider whether your condition (eg, headache, muscle pain, minor cold or allergy) really requires medical therapy: Try to find alternatives such as a heating pad or a cold compress. However, don’t dismiss a severe headache or neglect an illness that could worsen; you need to be in top form to nurse your baby.

• If you must take medication, choose the one that is safest for the baby. For example, acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) is generally preferable to aspirin for headaches and muscle pain.

• Whenever possible, use a topical form of a medication (cream, ointment, lotion, vaginal or rectal suppository) instead of an oral form, because less of the topical form will find its way into breast milk.

• Whenever possible, take medication just after nursing.

• If you must use a potentially risky medication, ask your doctor and/or pediatrician about monitoring drug levels in the baby’s blood.

Source article: What You Should Know About Medication Use While Breast-Feeding
Patient Handout prepared by Patricia L. Van Horn using materials from the American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (http://home.aafp.org).

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