Breastfeeding FAQs


mom with baby

What can I take for a headache while I am breastfeeding my baby?
Breastfeeding moms can take acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Aleve). Aspirin is generally avoided in breastfeeding.

I have a sinus infection and my doctor prescribed amoxicillin. But my baby is getting amoxicillin right now for an ear infection. Is it safe for me to breastfeed?
Yes. Amoxicillin enters breast milk in low amounts, so the amount of this antibiotic in your breast milk will not significantly add to the amount your baby is already getting. Most babies do not have any side effects from amoxicillin in breast milk.

Are cold medications safe to take while I’m breastfeeding?
Many cold preparations are compatible with breastfeeding. It is important to read the ingredients on the package and take only mediations that are necessary to treat your specific symptoms. Here is some information about medications that are commonly found in over-the-counter cold preparations:

  • Decongestants that are taken by mouth, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), are not likely to be harmful to a breastfed infant, but may lessen the amount of breast milk that you make. If you have nasal congestion, talk with your healthcare provider about treatment.
  • The expectorant guaifenesin and the cough suppressant dextromethorphan are often found together in products like Mucinex DM or Robitussin DM. Both of these medications are okay to take while breastfeeding.
  • Small, occasional doses of antihistamines are acceptable while nursing. If you need to take an antihistamine for an extended period of time, non-sedating antihistamines such as loratadine (Claritin) or cetirizine (Zyrtec) are preferred.

I am breastfeeding my 3-month-old baby and I was just diagnosed with postpartum depression. My doctor prescribed me an antidepressant. Do I have to stop breastfeeding my baby?
No. In most cases, a woman can continue breastfeeding while taking her antidepressant. Some antidepressants have been better studied and are preferred over others for women who are breastfeeding. Call the Pregnancy Riskline for information about the safety of your medication(s) while breastfeeding.        

Can I drink caffeinated beverages while breastfeeding?
Yes, in moderation. Caffeine gets into breast milk and high amounts of caffeine (equivalent to 10 or more cups of coffee daily) can cause fussiness and jitteriness in breastfed babies.  Low to moderate amounts of caffeine (less than 300mg/day) are not likely to be harmful while breastfeeding. Babies that are younger than 3 months old break down caffeine more slowly, so may be more affected by caffeine in breast milk.

The approximate amount of caffeine in some common items:

  • 5 oz. cup of coffee = 40-180 mg
  • 5 oz. brewed tea =  20-90 mg
  • 12 oz. Coke = 46 mg
  • Red Bull energy drink = 80 mg
  • 1 cup of coffee ice cream = 58 mg
  • Hershey chocolate bar = 12 mg
  • 8 oz. hot chocolate = 5 mg
  • 2 tablets Excedrin = 130 mg

Do you have other questions about medications and exposures while breastfeeding? Call the Arizona Pregnancy Riskline toll-free at 1-888-285-3410 or Email an Expert.

Originally posted: August 29, 2013
Last updated: October 29, 2014
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