Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition

Medications and Breastfeeding

Most medications are safe in breastfeeding but a few are not. It is rare that a woman needs to stop breastfeeding in order to take a drug.

Nonetheless, sometimes doctors are not completely familiar with the most current information on medications and breastfeeding. If you are unsure, please refer to either to Thomas Hale’s book, Medications and Mothers’ Milk, last updated in 2006, or to the American Academy of Pediatrics list of drug safety in breastfeeding, or to the National Library of Medicine’s free, accurate service, LactMed, released in April 2006.

The AAP lists drugs only by their generic names. The AAP list is extensive, but is not a complete list of every drug. It is updated every few years, most recently in 2001. If a drug is not listed, it does not mean it’s not safe, only that it was not reviewed yet by AAP. Click Here to view the AAP’s policy and drug listing.

Medications and Mothers’ Milk is considered by many people to be the most complete and authoritative resource. It includes some drugs not reviewed by the AAP. This book also lists the AAP’s rating on each drug which AAP has reviewed. Hospitals and doctors’ offices should have access to this book, which is available in paperback, through ibreastfeeding.com. This book is updated frequently, most recently in 2006.

LactMed, like Hale, discusses medications in detail, and discusses the research known about each drug. While some drugs are listed by both their brand names and generic names, many are only listed by their generic names. It includes only drugs, not other substances or environmental agents. It does not have a clear rating system, like Hale or AAP, and it is up to the reader to determine safety.

Another helpful resource is motherisk.org. This site includes a 2000 review article on the topic by Dr. Shinya Ito in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The American College of Radiology determined that IV Contrast and gadolinium are both safe in lactation.

Free Medication Info for PDA!

Download our free PDA software, which includes medication information, as well as our Approach to Early Breastfeeding, and other resources. Download Now


For More Information

FAQ: Alcohol, Smoking, Diet, and Medications
Patient-friendly information from the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition on medications and breastfeeding.

Medications and Breastfeeding
Excerpt from the MBC’s resource guide, with references to phone numbers, books and articles on medications and breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Pharmacology
Dr. Thomas Hale’s website on breastfeeding pharmacology, including information on ordering his book, Medications and Mother’s Milk.