Breastfeeding and medication

Many illnesses, including depression, can be treated while you’re breastfeeding without harming your baby. However, small amounts of any drug you take will pass through your breast milk to your baby, so always tell your doctor, dentist or pharmacist that you’re breastfeeding.

What medicines can I take while I’m breastfeeding?

Medicines that can be taken while breastfeeding include:

  • most antibiotics
  • common painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen (but not aspirin)
  • hay fever medicines, such as Clarityn and Zirtek
  • cough medicines (simple linctus or honey and lemon in hot water)
  • asthma inhalers
  • normal doses of vitamins

You can use some methods of contraception and some cold remedies, but not all. Always check with your GP or pharmacist, who can advise you.

It’s fine to have dental treatments, local anaesthetics, injections (including MMR, tetanus and flu injections) and most operations. You can also dye, perm or straighten your hair, use fake tan and wear false nails.

An alternative can almost always be found. For more information, talk to your midwife health visitor or GP, go to the Breastfeeding Network website for advice on Drugs and breastfeeding, or call the Drugs in Breastmilk Helpline on 0844 412 4665.