Are Tylenol & Ibuprofen Safe for Breastfeeding?

Mom with headache sitting in front of couch

Are Tylenol & Ibuprofen Safe for Breastfeeding?

Navigating the world of medication while breastfeeding can often feel overwhelming. 

Finding the balance between alleviating discomfort that can come with breastfeeding or illness with the responsibility of ensuring the safety of your breastfed baby is no small feat. This is particularly true when it comes to common over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen, as well as remedies for colds, allergies, and more.  

The question of what is safe and what isn’t can generate a lot of anxiety and confusion for new parents. 

Today, we’ll explore expert resources and offer guidance on safe practices for taking medication while breastfeeding. Additionally, we’ll discuss some natural remedies that can offer relief for breastfeeding moms. 

Understanding Medication Safety for Breastfeeding Mothers 

Understanding medication safety for breastfeeding mothers is crucial to ensure the well-being of both mom and baby. According to the Mayo Clinic, almost any drug that’s present in the blood will transfer into breast milk to some extent. Similar to alcohol, it’s often at very low levels and poses no real risk to most infants.  

Still, mothers should use caution when taking medications – even OTC medications – while breastfeeding. Multiple factors can influence the safety of medications during breastfeeding, including: 

  • Medication Properties: Every medication is different. The chemical properties of a medication influence its potency in breast milk. 
  • Dosage and Timing: The amount of medication taken and the timing of doses in relation to breastfeeding can also impact infant exposure.  
  • Infant’s Age and Health: The experts at the Mayo Clinic emphasize that, “Exposure to medication in breast milk poses the greatest risk to premature babies, newborns, and babies who are medically unstable or have problems with kidney function.” The risk is lowest for healthy babies 6 months and older since their bodies can more easily metabolize drugs. 

The Safety of Over-the-Counter Medications While Breastfeeding 

Luckily, most OTC medications are safe to take while breastfeeding. This includes common pain relievers and cold medicine. 

The LactMed® database is a great resource that contains information on drugs and other chemicals to which breastfeeding mothers may be exposed and how they can affect breast milk.  

Let’s take a closer look at what the database has to say about common OTC medications. 

Is Tylenol Safe for Breastfeeding? 

Yes! Acetaminophen, which is sold under the brand name Tylenol, is considered safe for breastfeeding moms. Tylenol is a pain reliever and can help to reduce fever. 

Is Ibuprofen Safe for Breastfeeding? 

Once again, yes! The LactMed® database explains that because of its extremely low levels in breast milk, short half-life, and safe use in infants, ibuprofen is a preferred pain reliever among nursing mothers. 

Is Advil Safe for Breastfeeding? 

Advil is simply a brand name for ibuprofen – therefore it’s also safe for breastfeeding moms. 

Is Cold Medicine Safe for Breastfeeding? 

Cold medicines like Sudafed or Zyrtec D are also considered safe for breastfeeding moms. However, the main ingredient, pseudoephedrine, has been shown to decrease milk supply. The database also reports that repeated use seems to interfere with lactation. 

Nursing moms may want to use alternative cold remedies (more on that soon) that won’t affect their milk supply. 

Is Allergy Medicine Safe for Breastfeeding? 

Antihistamines are also considered safe. The main ingredients like Loratadine (found in Claritin) and Fexofenadine (Allegra) are not expected to cause any adverse effects in breastfed infants. 

Considerations for Using Medications While Nursing 

Woman taking dose of ibuprofen with water

Nursing moms should always be cautious when taking medications while nursing. First and foremost, you should also check with your healthcare provider before taking any new medications. While OTC medications are largely considered to be safe, your healthcare provider can still help you understand the appropriate dosage and timing for peace of mind. 

If you need to take prescription medication, your healthcare provider will be your best resource for understanding if nursing is still an option. They may recommend you stop breastfeeding temporarily depending on the medication and health of your little one. 

Monitoring Baby 

When taking medication while breastfeeding, it’s also important to pay extra attention to your baby’s behavior. If you notice your little one is extra fussy during or after feedings, or any changes to their eating or sleeping habits, contact your child’s health care providers. 

While reactions to medications through breastfeeding are rare, every baby is different and it’s best to be cautious. 

Exploring Natural Remedies and Alternatives for Pain Management 

Of course, not all new moms want to rely on pharmaceuticals. Especially since some, like cold medicines, have the potential to affect their milk supply. 

Luckily, there are plenty of natural remedies and solutions that can help with common ailments and pains that come with breastfeeding. Keep in mind that “natural” does not always mean safe, and it’s still best to consult with your doctor before trying a new herb or making dietary adjustments. 

Herbs for Pain Relief 

Herbal teas, in particular, are a popular choice among new moms looking for a more natural way to relieve pain or increase milk supply. Fenugreek is one such popular herb among breastfeeding mothers because of its ability to increase milk supply. However, it should be used with guidance from a healthcare professional. 

Ginger tea, peppermint tea, and chamomile tea are also great for relaxation and help with issues like nausea. Always use herbs in moderation. 

Dietary Changes 

Making small changes to your diet can also go a long way in improving your well-being as a breastfeeding mom. As we’ve talked about before, certain foods can help support a healthy milk supply (which can help make breastfeeding a more comfortable experience). 

Incorporating foods with anti-inflammatory properties can also help boost your immune system and may reduce your need for anti-inflammatory medications in the long run. 

Home Remedies 

Breastfeeding can be painful! Along with a low dose of an OTC pain killer, home remedies such as a warm compress or massages can go a long way in reducing discomfort. Staying hydrated and well-rested is also a must for your well-being as a new parent. 

Explore our breast milk keepsake that lasts a lifetime and represents the beautiful connection between mother and baby. Shop all breastmilk jewelry now at KeepsakeMom.

Share this post