Many moms wonder whether taking medicine while breastfeeding can have an effect on their babies.

You might be surprised and relieved to know that breast milk production is equipped with a highly effective security system.  The milk is filtered through two layers of tissues: the walls of your capillaries and the walls of your mammary glands.  Therefore, chances are you would pass on less than 1% of the medicine you’ve taken to your baby.

Besides, your baby also has his own fundamental biological protection systems (saliva, digestive enzyme, or membranes) already working to filter drugs out.  Therefore, if you have general illness, you can safely take general medicine and continue breastfeeding.

However, if the symptoms are severe or specific medicine is required, it might be better to refrain from breastfeeding during your treatment.

Even though the chances of medicine being passed on to newborns are small, it is still better to take precautions.

  • If you catch a simple cold and have runny nose, you may treat it naturally by eating food with high vitamin C and drinking lots of water.
  • Inform your doctor that you are breastfeeding. He/she will choose medicines that have the least effects on your breast milk.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions strictly and observe your baby closely for any abnormal signs.
  • Normally, drugs will be at its highest level in your blood stream in the first 3 hours after you’ve taken it. So schedule your intake right after breastfeeding or when your baby is sleeping to reduce the chances of passing on the medicine. 
  • Drink lots of water to flush out and enhance the removal of medicine from your body.  
  • For body pain, choose to apply liniment instead.  

In case you need to take medicine that requires you stop breastfeeding, pump and store your milk in advance.

Make sure you have enough supply to cover your breastfeeding hiatus. Even though you’re not breastfeeding, keep pumping the milk out and dump them. This will stimulate the milk producing organs to keep working so that you can resume breastfeeding as soon as your illness is cured.