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Guidelines for Breastfeeding and OTC Medications

Posted Jan 21 2013 12:00am


If you are a breastfeeding mom you know how difficult it can be to determine whether or not you can take an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Most warning labels on medications say that they are not recommended for breastfeeding moms, and different doctors may give you different opinions on which medications are OK to take.

The real confusion comes from the fact that true testing of medications cannot be done on pregnant or lactating women. So, drug companies and doctors are making educated guesses, based on animal studies and experience, to determine which medications are safe to take.

However, the good news is that there are a few general guidelines to follow when choosing OTC medications that have been approved by your doctor. For a more specific list of which types of medications are safe check out these safety of over-the-counter medications and breast feeding guidelines by th AAP.

General Rules of Thumb for Breastfeeding Moms
Here are some general guidelines for breastfeeding moms when it comes to treating symptoms with OTC medication:

·         If possible try to find a non-pharmacological treatment to act on your symptoms. Ask your pharmacist or doctor if there is an alternative treatment.

·         If you absolutely have to take OTC medications, it is recommended to take it immediately after nursing your child, or take it just before they go for a long sleep. This way, by the time of your child’s next feed, the medication concentration in your body will be as low as possible.

·         Medications with extra strengths preparations, max strength or long acting effects should be avoided, as these medications are usually stronger and take longer to leave your body than the regular preparations.
·         Watch your child if you are taking over the counter medications. Are they experiencing any side effects? Do you notice a change in their sleeping, eating, elimination, skin color, temperature or temperament? If you do think your child if suffering any adverse side effects, do not hesitate to take them to the emergency room/your pediatrician. 
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