[Healthline] Breastfeeding and antibiotics: What you need to know


Breastfeeding and antibiotics: What you need to know

Let’s face it, like it or not, breastfeeding moms get sick from time to time. And it’s not fun when that happens… There’s never a good time for a parent to fall ill, is there?

Although not all diseases require antibiotics, some cases such as sinusitis, ear infections, mastitis, and oral procedures are still needed.

You must be very confused when you are breastfeeding but you are prescribed antibiotics. Does the drug pass into milk? Is it safe for babies? If not safe, is there a safer alternative?

All of these questions will most likely stress you out. That is inevitable. Read on to find out the answer.

Can I take antibiotics while breastfeeding?

In most cases, antibiotics are safe for both parents and children.

“Antibiotics are common medicines prescribed to mothers. And they are partially passed into breast milk.” Interpreted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). At the same time, the AAP added: “In general, if antibiotics are prescribed for premature babies and newborns, it is safe for a nursing woman to take them.”

So what does this mean for you and your baby?

First, it’s important to know how the medicine works while you’re breastfeeding.

According to the Mayo Clinic, most drugs present in the circulation will also be present in your milk. However, the amount of drug present in milk is much less than the amount in circulation. And most drugs are “no real risk to the infant.”

However, the Mayo Clinic notes that there are exceptions, so any medication you take, including antibiotics, should be clearly communicated to your baby’s pediatrician.

In addition to the drug itself, there are other factors that need to be kept in mind, including the age of the baby. The Mayo Clinic says: Premature babies and newborns are more at risk from antibiotic exposure than full-term babies and toddlers.

Again, if those antibiotics are safe to give to your baby, they are also safe while breastfeeding.

If you are considering using antibiotics that are deemed unsafe for your child, you should think about the importance of taking them to your health.

Is there a safer drug? How long do you have to take the medicine? Do you need to pump out milk?

Which antibiotics are safe?

This question is usually considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on your child’s age, weight, and health – always consult with your doctor, especially the one prescribing your child.

The Mayo Clinic has listed a number of antibiotics that are considered safe for breastfeeding women, which are:

  • Penicillins, including amoxicillin and ampicillin
  • Cephalosporins, such as cephalexin (Keflex)
  • Fluconazole (diflucan) – this is not an antibiotic but a common antibacterial medicine used to treat fungal infections.
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If you’re considering taking an antibiotic not listed above, it’s best to talk to your doctor directly. It is possible that the antibiotic is still safe, or that there is a safer alternative.

What are the effects of taking antibiotics while breastfeeding?

In addition to concerns that antibiotics may have an adverse effect on the baby, the effect of antibiotics on nursing mothers is also worthy of concern.

Antibiotics work by killing bacteria present in the body, both beneficial and harmful. Therefore, antibiotics can cause uncomfortable situations for both mother and baby.

Indigestion and fussiness in babies

Occasionally, mothers report their children’s indigestion after they take antibiotics. This could be because antibiotics have depleted the amount of beneficial bacteria in your baby’s gut.

Remember that this condition is usually short-lived, does not cause harm, and is not self-evident. At the same time, breast milk is very good for your baby’s digestive system, so you need to continue to breastfeed your baby.

You can consider giving your baby a probiotic supplement to remedy this, but it’s better to consult your doctor before doing so.


Occasionally, because antibiotics can reduce the number of beneficial bacteria that help control other microorganisms in the body, this leads to you and/or your child developing thrush, a common fungal infection. caused by a yeast called Candida albicans.

An overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans can cause very uncomfortable symptoms in both mother and baby. Your baby may have colic, diaper rash, and a white coating on the tongue and mouth. The mother may have sore nipples (often described as stabbing or like “glass in the nipple”), red, shiny nipples.

Thrush treatment usually includes antifungal medication for both mother and child. But prevention is better. 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 child’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 have?
  • Should I give my baby probiotics?

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

  • Ask your doctor if there are alternative antibiotics, suitable for breastfeeding.
  • Ask if a lower dose of the antibiotic can be used.
  • Ask how long you need to take the medicine and how long it stays in your body.

If you are concerned that your doctor is not taking your concerns seriously, you can also contact another healthcare professional for a second opinion. Not all healthcare professionals are knowledgeable about breastfeeding, so just ask until you find one.

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What if you have to use an unsafe medication while breastfeeding?

If you are forced to use a medication that is not safe for your child, don’t worry.

Sometimes taking antibiotics that are contraindicated for a nursing woman is so important to your own health, you shouldn’t feel guilty if that’s the case. Your baby needs a healthy mom more than anything else, so just do what you need to stay healthy.

If you are unable to breastfeed while on antibiotics, make sure you pump and discard milk regularly to maintain your milk supply. And of course, make sure your child is fed with alternative methods in the meantime. You will be able to continue breastfeeding after your body has cleared the antibiotic.

Where can you find more information about breastfeeding medications?

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

Alternatively, you may consider contacting the Infant Risk Center, which provides verified breastfeeding and medication information, including a hotline for reimbursement. answer your questions.

For more help, consider contacting a lactation consultant, who can advise you on the pros and cons of specific antibiotics. They can also direct you to other sources of information to help you make your own decisions.

It’s hard to deal with an illness that requires antibiotics. And having to wonder if a prescribed antibiotic is safe for you to take while you’re breastfeeding can definitely add stress.

The antibiotic you have been prescribed is most likely perfectly fine. Children are prescribed antibiotics frequently during childhood, so most antibiotics are safe for young children, including infants. In addition, if you are prescribed an antibiotic that contraindicates breastfeeding, you will often have additional alternatives.

Sometimes asking for alternative medicines and asking for a doctor’s advice can seem like a no-brainer conversation. Expressing milk is also a way – and it can work well when needed – but it is not always a good way. It’s understandable why many nursing mothers don’t like this option.

Advocate for yourself, seek out verified information, educate yourself about medication use while breastfeeding, and seek advice when necessary.

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

Conclusion, no matter what happens, believe that you and your baby will both get through well.

Source: Healthline

Translator: Thanh Ngan Le

Self-translated article, please do not reup!

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