Safety of Over-The-Counter Medications and Breast Feeding
Posted Jan 18 2013 12:00am
Winter. The time of runny noses, coughs
that tickle, congested airways, watery eyes and sneezing marathons. For most,
treating these symptoms with a quick over-the-counter medication is a no-brainer.
However, for breastfeeding moms not all of these medications are considered
safe. Here is a quick run-down of what breastfeeding moms should know when they
head to the pharmacy:
Are analgesic safe while breastfeeding?
That really depends on which type of analgesia taken. In general, there are
three basic ingredients found in OTC analgesia medications. They are aspirin,
acetaminophen and non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory-drugs (NSAIDS). Aspirin is not recommended to take, due to
the fact that aspirin enters the breast milk and can cause adverse effects on
the baby. On the other hand, in general NSAIDS such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and
ketoprofen are considered safe for breast feeding. NSAIDS such as these do not
linger in the mother’s body for long and are not found to be transferred to the
breast milk. Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen are accepted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) as safe analgesia choices when breastfeeding.
cold and allergy products
These products tend to be a combination of
antihistamines, decongestants, expectorants, antitussives and pain relievers.
Therefore when considering these types of products, it is important to consider
the safety of each of the individual ingredients for breast feeding. It is a
good idea to avoid combination, long acting or extra strength products. Most
antihistamines are considered safe; however some such as clemastine have been
reported to cause infant drowsiness. Decongestant pseudoephedrine is found to
be the most compatible with breast feeding, according to the AAP, however it
can cause a decrease in breast milk production. So moms, make sure you get your
fluids while breast feeding and taking this product.
spray and lozenges
These products usually have a combination
of soothing agents, local anesthetics and antiseptics. In generally these
products are not transmitted to breast milk, and are therefore compatible with
breastfeeding. BUT why not just make your own non pharmacological treatment? A
hot honey (soothing), lemon (natural antiseptic) and cinnamon (naturally
anti-inflammatory) is a great treatment to soothe a sore throat and carries no
risk for mom or baby!
sprays and nasal products
Oxymetazoline is the most common product
found in nasal sprays. This drug has side effects for breast feeding mothers
such as decreased milk supply and rebound congestion. Products such as
xylometazoline and naphazoline should also be avoided as these pass easily to
the breast milk. Recommended treatment is a sodium chloride preparation for
nasal congestion as it does not carry any of the risks associated with the
products listed above. Also steaming your head over a hot bowl of water with a
towel tends to loosen any mucus and can cause some relief from nasal
decongestion. Just make sure the waters not too hot, as not to scald your face.
If you are ever concerned about an OCT
medication when breast feeding, ask your pharmacist/physician/lactation nurse
for advice and they will point you in the right direction!