[Healthline] Breastfeeding and antibiotic use: What you need to know


Let’s face it: Like it or not, breastfeeding moms get sick sometimes. When that happens, it’s not fun… because there’s never a good time for a parent to get sick, right?

While not all illnesses or medical conditions require the use of antibiotics, some do, including ear or sinus infections, dental procedures, or mastitis.

If you are prescribed antibiotics while you are breastfeeding, you may be concerned about their safety. Does the medicine pass into your breast milk? Is it safe for your baby? If the particular antibiotic you have been prescribed is not safe, are there safer alternatives?

All these questions can create a lot of stress. This is understandable. Continue reading for answers to your questions.

Can you safely take antibiotics while breastfeeding?

In most cases, antibiotics are safe for nursing parents and their babies.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explains: “Antibiotics are one of the most common medications that mothers are prescribed, and they all pass into breast milk to some extent. At the same time, the AAP adds: “In general, if antibiotics are administered directly to premature infants or infants, it is safe for the mother to breastfeed.”

So what does this mean for you and your nursing baby?

First, it’s important to keep in mind how medications usually work while you’re breastfeeding.

As the Mayo Clinic explains, most of the drugs that are in your blood will also be in your breast milk. However, the amount in your milk is usually lower than the amount in your blood, and most medicines “have no real risk for most babies.”

However, the Mayo Clinic also notes that there are exceptions and so any medications you take – including antibiotics – should be communicated to your child’s pediatrician.

In addition to the medication itself, there are other factors to keep in mind, including your child’s age. The Mayo Clinic explains: “Exposure to antibiotics poses more risks for premature babies and infants, as opposed to older children and toddlers.

And again, if your baby can safely take antibiotics, it’s probably safe to take them while breastfeeding.

If you are considering taking an antibiotic that is not considered safe for your baby, you will need to decide how important it is to take that medicine.

Which antibiotics are safe?

This question is usually considered on a case-by-case basis depending on your baby’s age, weight and overall health – and always consult with your pediatrician and your baby’s prescribing physician.

However, the Mayo Clinic lists several antibiotics that are generally considered safe for women who are breastfeeding, including:

  • penicillin, including amoxicillin and ampicillin
  • cephalosporins , such as cephalexin (Keflex)
  • fluconazole (Diflucan) – this is not an antibiotic but a common antibacterial drug used to treat fungal infections

If you’re considering taking an antibiotic not listed above, it’s best to talk to your child’s pediatrician. Chances are that the antibiotic is safe or that there is a safe alternative.

What are the possible effects of taking antibiotics while breastfeeding?

In addition to the concern that antibiotics may harm your baby’s health, there are other concerns associated with the use of antibiotics by nursing mothers.

Antibiotics work by killing bacteria in your body – both the bacteria that are harmful to you and the “good” bacteria that keep you healthy. Therefore, antibiotics can cause certain uncomfortable situations for both mother and baby.

Irritability and fussiness in babies

Sometimes mothers report that their baby has a stomach ache after taking antibiotics. This could be because antibiotics can deplete the “good” bacteria in your baby’s gut.

Keep in mind that this effect is usually short-lived, is not harmful and is not permanent. Also, remember that breast milk is great for your baby’s gut health, so continuing to breastfeed is important.

You might consider giving your baby probiotics to remedy this problem, but it’s important that you consult your baby’s medical provider before doing so.


Sometimes – again, because antibiotics can reduce the number of “good” bacteria in your system, which help control other microorganisms – you and/or your child can develop thrush. a fungal infection usually caused by Candida albicans, a type of yeast.

An overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans can cause very uncomfortable symptoms in both mother and baby. The baby may have colic, diaper rash, and a white coating on the tongue and mouth. The mother may have sore nipples and red, glossy nipples.

Thrush treatment usually includes antifungal medication for both mother and child. But prevention is key. If you’re on antibiotics, you should take a probiotic to keep your gut bacteria happy and balanced.

What should you discuss with your doctor if they prescribe antibiotics?

If you are prescribed antibiotics, consult your baby’s pediatrician first. Things you may want to ask include:

Is this medicine safe for my child?

Are there any side effects my child may experience?

Should I give my baby probiotics?

If you have been told that antibiotics are not safe for your baby – don’t worry. There are often alternatives.

Ask your doctor if there are alternative antibiotics, suitable for breastfeeding.

Ask if a lower dose of antibiotics might work.

Ask how long you will need to take the medicine and how long it stays in your system.

If you feel concerned that your pediatrician or doctor is not taking your concerns seriously, you can also contact another provider for a second opinion. Not all healthcare providers are knowledgeable about breastfeeding, so feel free to find out which one.

What if you have to take a medication that is not safe for breastfeeding?

If you have to take a medicine that is not safe for your unborn baby, don’t worry.

Sometimes taking antibiotics is a contraindication to breastfeeding is important for your own health and you shouldn’t feel guilty if this is the case. Your baby needs a healthy mom more than anything else, so do what you need to do to stay healthy.

If you are unable to breastfeed while on antibiotics, make sure to pump and empty on a regular schedule to maintain your milk supply. And of course, make sure your baby is fed with alternative methods while you wait. You will be able to continue breastfeeding once your body has cleared the antibiotic.

Where can you find more information about medications and breastfeeding?

Another resource for your reference is LactMedTrusted Source, a database funded by the National Library of Medicine that lists medications and their possible effects on breastfed infants.

Alternatively, you may consider contacting the Newborn Risk Center, which provides evidence-based information about breastfeeding and medication, including a hotline to answer your questions. Friend.

For more help, consider contacting a lactation consultant, who can advise you on the pros and cons of taking a particular antibiotic. They can direct you to other resources to help you make your decision.


It can be tough to deal with an illness or any kind of medical condition that requires antibiotics. And having to wonder if the antibiotic you’re prescribed is safe for you to take while you’re breastfeeding can certainly add to the stress.

The antibiotic you’ve been prescribed may be perfectly fine. Children are prescribed antibiotics frequently during childhood, so it is known that most antibiotics are safe for young people, including infants. In addition, if you are prescribed an antibiotic that contraindicates breastfeeding, you often have alternatives.

Sometimes asking for alternatives and asking for a doctor’s advice can seem like a difficult conversation to navigate. Pump and dump is an option – and it can work well when needed – but it is not always the answer. It’s understandable why many nursing mothers don’t like that option.

Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself, seek out good, evidence-based information, educate yourself about breastfeeding and medication use, and seek a second opinion when necessary.

Lactation counselors and lactation peer counselors can help you understand what you’re learning and help you through these difficult conversations with your provider.

In the end, whatever happens, you and your child will get through it just fine.

Source: Breastfeeding and Antibiotics: What You Need to Know

Link: https://www.healthline.com/health/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-and-antibiotics


The article is edited and translated by ykhoa.org – please do not reup without permission!

Translated by: Kimluan

Editing: Bao Ngan

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