Prescription Medication Use

What to know

Although many medications pass into breast milk, most have little or no effect on milk supply or infant well-being. A few medications should be avoided while breastfeeding. Mothers should talk with their health care provider about medications or supplements they take and medications to avoid.

Bottles of prescription medications.

Prescription medications while breastfeeding

It is usually safe for mothers to use prescription medications while breastfeeding. A 2013 clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) indicates that most medications and immunizations are safe to use while breastfeeding.

According to the AAP, health care providers should weigh the risks and benefits when prescribing medications to breastfeeding mothers. Consider the following:

  • Need for the drug by the mother.
  • Potential effects of the drug on milk production.
  • Amount of the drug excreted into human milk.
  • Extent of oral absorption by the breastfeeding infant.
  • Possible adverse effects on the breastfeeding infant.
  • Age of the infant.
  • Proportion of feedings that are breast milk.

Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed®)‎

Information on drugs and other chemicals to which breastfeeding mothers may be exposed and recommendations for use while breastfeeding.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) maintains LactMed®. LactMed® is a database of information on drugs and other chemicals to which breastfeeding mothers may be exposed.

LactMed® includes information on the levels of such substances in breast milk and infant blood and the possible adverse effects in the nursing infant. The database also provides alternatives to those drugs where appropriate. All data come from scientific literature and are referenced. A scientific panel reviews the data for scientific validity and whether it is the most current information.

The Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) provides information on the risks and safety of taking medication during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Contact the OTIS Mother to Baby in English and Spanish with questions about medications, vaccines, chemicals, herbal products, and much more, during pregnancy or breastfeeding. 866.626.6847

Note to breastfeeding mothers‎

Tell your health care provider and your baby's provider about any medications or supplements you take. These include vitamins, herbs, and over-the-counter products.