Let’s discuss Breastfeeding and Antibiotics.
Don’t be judgemental; some think that breastfeeding moms do not get sick. Ell to interest you, that’s the most difficult period of their lives.
It is shown that not all illnesses or medical situations require antibiotics; some do, including ear or sinus infections, dental procedures, or mastitis.
However, whenever you’ve been prescribed an antibiotic while breastfeeding, you may be concerned about its safety. Will the medication pass into your breast milk? Is it harmless for your baby? If the particular drugs you’ve been prescribed are not safe, are there any safer options?
Moreover, all of these questions can generate a ton of stress. That’s normal.
Can you safely take antibiotics while breastfeeding?
In most instances, antibiotics are safe for breastfeeding parents and their babies.
“Antibiotics are one of the most frequent medications mothers are prescribed, and all pass in some order into milk,” describes the Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP).
At the same time, the AAP adds: “In overall, if the antibiotic would be administered directly to a premature infant or a neonate, then it is safe for the mother to take during breastfeeding.”
So what does this mean for you and your breastfeeding baby?
Firstly, it’s necessary to have in mind how medications regularly work when you’re breastfeeding.
As the Mayo Clinic describes, most drugs that become present in your bloodstream will also be present in your breast milk.
However, the volume in your milk is normally lower than the amount in your blood, and most medications “pose no real risk to most infants.”
However, the Mayo Clinic also notes that there are exceptions, and as such, every medication you take, including antibiotics, should be cleared with your baby’s pediatrician.
In addition to the medication itself, there are other factors to keep in mind, including how old your baby is. Exposure to antibiotics will pose a bigger risk to premature babies and newborns than older babies and toddlers explains the Mayo Clinic.
And again, if your baby could safely take the antibiotic, it’s reasonably safe to take it while breastfeeding.
If you’re considering taking an antibiotic that’s not considered safe for your baby, you’ll need to decide how important it is for you to take the medication.
Are there safe options? How long do you have to be on the medication? Can you “pump and dump” and then resume breastfeeding?
Which antibiotics are safe?
This problem is usually held on a case-by-case basis depending on your baby’s age, weight, and overall health and always in consultation with your baby’s pediatrician and your prescribing provider.
However, the Mayo Clinic lists several antibiotics that are generally considered safe for breastfeeding women, including:
- cephalosporins, such as cephalexin (Keflex)
- penicillins, including amoxicillin and ampicillin
- fluconazole (Diflucan) is not an antibiotic, but a common antimicrobial used to treat fungal infections
If you’re thinking of taking an antibiotic that’s not listed above, your best bet is to talk to your baby or child’s pediatrician. The chances are that the antibiotic is safe or that there’s a safe alternative.
Antibiotics work by killing bacteria in your body, both the bacteria causing you harm and the “good” bacteria that keep you healthy. As such, antibiotics can cause certain difficult situations for both moms and babies.
Stomach upset and fussiness in babies
Sometimes mothers report that their babies have an upset stomach after they take antibiotics. This may be because antibiotics may deplete the “good” bacteria in your baby’s gut.
Keep in mind that this result is usually short-lived, not harmful, and not a given. Additionally, keep in mind that breast milk is great for your baby’s gut health, so it’s great to continue breastfeeding.
You can consider giving your baby probiotics to correct this problem, but you must consult your baby’s medical provider before doing so.
Sometimes, because antibiotics can decrease the number of “good” bacteria in your system that keep other microorganisms in check, you and/or your baby may develop thrush, a fungal infection usually caused by Candida albicans, a fungal yeast.
Overgrowth of Candida albicans can cause very annoying symptoms in both moms and babies. Babies may encounter an upset stomach, diaper rash, and white coating on their tongues and mouths.
The mother may experience nipple pain (often described as stabbing or like “glass in the nipples”) and red, shiny nipples.
Treatment for thrush normally includes antifungal medication for both moms and babies. If you’re taking an antibiotic, it’s recommended that you take a probiotic to keep your gut bacteria happy and balanced.
What should you discuss with your doctor if they’re prescribing antibiotics?
If you’re prescribed an antibiotic, first consult your baby’s pediatrician. Something you may want to ask include:
- Is this medication safe for my baby?
- Are there any side effects that my baby may experience?
- Should I give probiotics to my baby?
If you’re told that antibiotics aren’t safe for your baby, don’t worry. There are usually alternatives.
- Ask your practitioner if there are alternative, breastfeeding-friendly antibiotics.
- Confirm if a lower dose of the antibiotic could work.
- Verify how long you’ll need to take the medication and how long it stays in your system.
If you feel concerned that your doctor isn’t taking your interests seriously, you can also contact another provider for another opinion. Not all medical providers are knowledgeable about breastfeeding, so feel free to seek out one who is.
What if you have to take a medication that isn’t safe for breastfeeding?
If you need to take an unsafe medication for your baby, try not to worry too much.
Sometimes taking an antibiotic that’s contraindicated for breastfeeding is necessary for your own health, and you should not feel wrong if this is the case.
Your baby needs a healthy mother more than anything else, so do what you need to do to stay healthy.
If you can’t breastfeed while taking the antibiotic, make sure to pump and dump your milk on a regular schedule to maintain your milk supply. And, of course, make sure your baby is fed by alternative means while you wait. You should be able to resume breastfeeding once your body clears the antibiotic.