11 Popular Medicines to Avoid While Breastfeeding


To raise a child is not an easy job, as you have responsibilities lot more than you ever imagined. Mother, is the greatest gift to the man kind. Your every action will have some impact on your baby too, so decide your move correctly. When you breastfeed your child you need to be careful about many things, one of them are medicines. Yes, you read it right, I am talking about the medicines which you take.

When you have a baby to look after, retreating under the duvet with a streaming cold or pounding head isn’t always an option, so you may want to reach for the first thing in the medicine cabinet. But which medicines are safe to take while breastfeeding? While traces of medicine can pass into breast milk, the amounts are so small they are usually considered harmless. However, certain medicines, no matter what the dosage, can have an adverse effect on your baby and should be avoided.

Breastfeeding: 11 Medicines to Avoid

medicines to avoid while breastfeeding

Some of them are as follows:


Aspirin is best avoided during breastfeeding, especially with very young infants. Chronic, high-dose aspirin should probably be avoided. If aspirin is taken, avoid breastfeeding for 1 to 2 hours after a dose to minimize antiplatelet effects in the infant. The risk of Reye’s syndrome caused by salicylate in breastmilk is unknown. While Reye’s is rare, it is dangerous and can be fatal. Symptoms can include vomiting, drowsiness, irritability and seizures.


Another painkilling drug, codeine is commonly found in over-the-counter combination medications. The opioid painkiller codeine can cause life-threatening breathing problems in children and should not be taken by anyone younger than 12 years of age. Since the medication can pass to infants through their mother’s breast milk, breastfeeding mothers should also avoid these medications.



This includes both nasal and oral versions. When it comes to the use of decongestants by a nursing mom, the drug safety is doubtful. While only 5-10 percent of nasal sprays is absorbed in the mother’s bloodstream, the absorption rate is higher for an oral decongestant. A portion of the medication is passed on the baby via mother’s milk. This may cause sleep problem, irritability and at other times, tachycardia in a breastfeeding baby. Hence, a lactating mother who is currently on cold medicine should keep a close eye on the baby for allergy and unusual symptoms. On top of the adverse reactions, some of the decongestant drugs reduce milk production


Adverse reactions such as vomiting, excessive intestinal gas and falling asleep at the breast have been reported in breastfed infants whose mothers were taking oral chloramphenicol. Milk concentrations are not sufficient to induce “gray baby” syndrome, but since chloramphenicol-induced aplastic anemia is not dose-related, this might occur. An alternate drug is preferred to chloramphenicol during breastfeeding, especially while nursing a newborn or preterm infant. If the mother must receive chloramphenicol during nursing, monitor the infant for gastrointestinal disturbances and adequacy of nursing. Monitoring of the infant’s complete blood count and differential is advisable. In some cases, discontinuation of breastfeeding might be preferred.


It is used to treat heart related problems. In human studies, amiodarone has been shown to pass through breast milk in amounts that were large enough to potentially cause problems in a nursing infant. There has been a case in which a nursing child exposed to this medication through breast milk developed symptoms of an underactive thyroid(hypothyroidism).Importantly, amiodarone contains a significant amount of iodine. Iodine has been reported to cause hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) in breastfed infants. In general, it is recommended that women who take amiodarone not breastfeed. In addition, because the drug can stay in the body for months after treatment ends, breastfeeding is also generally discouraged in women who have recently taken amiodarone.


These drugs lower blood cholesterol level. Treatment with cholesterol-lowering drugs is currently not recommended for women who are breastfeeding. Cholesterol is important for the infant’s brain development and is an important component of all cells of the body. A possible reduction in the cholesterol content of breast milk due to statin therapy in the mother will still result in the infant receiving a markedly higher cholesterol dose. So it should be avoided during breastfeeding or breastfeeding should be discontinued.


Cocaine may transfer to breast milk. For mothers who use cocaine, the concentration of the drug will likely be higher in her milk than in her blood . Feeding an infant cocaine-containing milk can be dangerous to a baby’s health. Cocaine’s powerful stimulant properties can easily overwhelm a baby’s body. Several studies have noted the adverse effects of using cocaine on a breastfeeding infant, including :

  • Changes in mood,
  • Irritability,
  • High-pitched crying,
  • Dilated pupils,
  • Vomiting,
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactive reflexes.
  • Hypertension

So, please avoid cocaine while breastfeeding as it has serious side effects on your baby.


Antineoplastic agents(drugs used to treat cancer)

Antineoplastics or anticancer drugs that are used to treat cancer are not safe to use when breastfeeding especially alkylating agents. There is risk of Neutropenia (Itis a condition in which the number of neutrophils in the bloodstream is decreased. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell. Neutropenia reduces the body’s ability to fight off bacterial infections. White blood cells are also known as leukocyte) in infants when these are used while nursing. Women taking these drugs should not breastfeed.

Iodine, radioactive

It is used in the treatment of hyperthyroidism. Radioactive iodine treatment passes to baby through breast milk and it can expose the baby to radiation. Breastfeeding should be discontinued permanently for the current child. Also, you should avoid close contact with the infant after the radioactive iodine treatment


It is used to treat the Parkinson’s disease or the flu. Amantadine is not safe to take during breastfeeding because of its potential risk to the fetus. It may also reduce the milk supply.


it is anti-pyretic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory drug used for pain however should not be taken in breastfeeding as it is excreted in the breast milk and may harm the baby.

Before taking any medicine, please consult your doctor. He will give you honest and correct advice. It is advisable to take least medicines when pregnant or while breastfeeding. Be safe and careful. Your careful nature will help you in raising a healthy child.

Hope this article was of help for all our parents!! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy and Healthy Babies!!