The following is a guest post by Jennifer Buchanan
The choice to take medication or not while you are breastfeeding can be a stressful decision for many moms, especially during flu season when there are many flu and cold medications available.
The key questions to consider for taking medication during lactation are:
1. Do the benefits of the medication outweigh the possible effects on the baby?
2. Do the benefits of the medication outweigh the benefits of breastfeeding your baby and the benefits of breast milk?
If you can’t answer these questions yourself, that doesn’t mean you should stop breastfeeding. The answers should always be guided from your pediatrician and lactation consultant. Continue reading to learn more about medication, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
How Medication Gets to Your Baby While Breastfeeding
Here’s what happens when you take medications orally (by mouth):
1. The medication goes from your mouth into your stomach.
2. Your stomach digests and breaks down the drug where it can be absorbed from your intestinal tract into your blood stream.
3. Your blood circulates in your body and passes by the milk ducts in your breasts.
4. The milk ducts absorb the drug from your bloodstream into your breast milk.
5. Your baby drinks your breast milk. The milk enters their stomach and medication in the milk is absorbed by their intestines and finally into their blood stream.
The amount of medication that gets into your baby’s blood stream after this whole process is very minimal.
If Medication is Safe during Pregnancy, It’s Safe During Lactation
There are medications that are absolutely prohibited during breastfeeding, but those typically are drugs that are also forbidden for women who are pregnant. A general rule is that if it is safe during pregnancy it is also safe during breastfeeding.
Always Consult Your Doctor.
More importantly, you should have already consulted your doctor about any medications taken during pregnancy as the drugs can be much more harmful.Taking a new or any medication while lactating, as stated above, should always involve the pediatrician or lactation consultant.
Remember, the purpose of this post is NOT to act as a substitute for medical advice, but rather to help you understand how the human body works and arm yourself with the knowledge to make the most informed decision for you and your newborn baby.