5. Can I breastfeed if taking medicine?

When possible breast feeding is best for baby

The breast feeding section of med+info leaflets provides the latest information for easy reference.

Where there is evidence of a serious risk to the baby if the mother breast feeds and takes the medicine med+info leaflets advise not to breast feed while taking the medicine.

The decision to take the medicine and not breast feed or to stop taking the medicine and breast feed must always be taken with medical advice, the risks and benefits having been carefully considered.

Never stop taking your medicine without consulting your doctor or pharmacist.

There may be risks to the mother’s serious health problem if she suddenly stops taking her medicine so she can breast feed. Your doctor may change your medicine to a medicine that is suitable to take if breast feeding

For many medicines there is not sufficient evidence about whether or not the medicine passes into breast milk, or whether the medicine will harm the baby. For these medicines med+info leaflets advise that breast feeding is not recommended and to ask your doctor for advice.

If you are taking medicine and are breast feeding, take the medicine immediately after feeding the baby. This allows the body time to use up the medicine, reducing the amount of medicine likely to be in the breast milk when the baby is next feeding.

Stopping breastfeeding for a week or more may result in permanent weaning as the baby may not return to the breast.

If a medicine is safe to take while pregnant then it may be able to be taken when breast feeding, but always check with your pharmacist first.

Caution: Babies can’t easily get caffeine out of their body, so avoid coffee and drinks containing caffeine while breast feeding. Caffeine may cause problems for the baby such as poor sleeping, poor feeding, nervousness and irritability.

Smoking: Do not smoke while breastfeeding or near the baby. Smoking it will harm the baby and cause breathing difficulties. If you must smoke do it outside.

More information: med+info leaflets section 3 “Breast feeding”