Can I take ANTIBIOTICS while breastfeeding?

Is it safe to drink antibiotics while breastfeeding?

When you are a breastfeeding mom any kind of medication should be taken with extreme caution. Many drugs are not compatible with lactation, they negatively affect milk composition and production. In addition, some medicines, especially antibiotics while breastfeeding are harmful to health and slows down baby’s development.

The bad news is antibiotics penetrate into blood and breast milk, thus finding its way straight into the baby’s body. As a result, you might face with undesirable side effects, the most common of which are poisoning, indigestion and bowel disorders, various allergic reactions, sleep disorders (I could go on, but I think you got the point).

That is the main reason why many women refuse to take antibiotics, fearing that they will harm the baby, and thereby putting their health and ability to continue breastfeeding at risk. Because there are some medical conditions where the antibiotic is the only option for treatment.

But here’s THE GOOD NEWS:

You don’t have to be afraid of antibiotics because there are drugs that do not require you to stop breastfeeding. I’m talking about antibiotics safe enough for the baby to take while breastfeeding.

I told you, it’s the good news! 🙂 Let’s figure out which one to choose.

Is this antibiotic safe to take while breastfeeding?

safe antibiotics while breastfeeding

In order to determine the degree of harm to the baby, first and foremost, consult your doctor and carefully read the instructions.

The are several factors to pay attention to before use:

  • toxicity of antibiotic compound
  • adverse effects on the internal organs of the newborn
  • possible side effects and individual tolerability
  • the risk of allergic reactions
  • duration of drug intake
  • half-life
  • compatibility with lactation.

Allowed antibiotics in lactation

The indicator that the antibiotic can be taken while breastfeeding is its low penetration into breast milk, relatively rapid half-life, lack of toxicity to the baby and its safety for the growing organism.

Antibiotics compatible with breastfeeding can be divided into the following groups:

Product group Characteristics  Product name
Penicillins Low toxicity, penetrate into breast milk in a small dose, may sometimes cause diarrhea and rash Ampicillin, Amoxycillin-clavulanate, Ampiox, Amoxicillin and Penicillin
Aminoglycosides Penetrate into breast milk in a small dose, in some cases may adversely affect the intestinal microflora Gentamicin and Netromycin
Cephalosporins Penetrate into breast milk in low concentrations, but may cause diarrhea and increase the risk of bleeding Claforan, Rocephin, Ceftriaxone


How to avoid side effect of antibiotics in babies?

Take the following precautionary measures to keep your baby away from risks connected with taking antibiotics while breastfeeding:   

  1. Do NOT self-medicate. Consult your doctor to get a prescription and make sure the drug is compatible with lactation.
  2. Do not try to reduce the dose of the drug. This can lead to ineffective treatment and prolonged therapy.
  3. Choose antibiotics safe for infants.
  4. Have you dose of antibiotic while breastfeeding or right after it. The point is to make the gap between the feeding sessions as big as possible.

Prohibited antibiotics in lactation

What drugs to take while breastfeeding

In some cases, the safe antibiotics for lactating mothers are ineffective in relation to one or another pathogenic organism, and the doctor has to prescribe antibiotics incompatible with lactation. It means that you should temporarily stop breastfeeding while taking this antibiotics, because they are not safe for babies and may cause adverse reaction in infant’s body. Do not feel bad if you have to take these measures. It doesn’t mean that you will have to stop breatsfeeding altogether. Try pumping while taking antibiotics, thus you won’t lose your milk supply being on medication.

The prohibited antibacterial drugs for breastfeeding mothers include:

  1. Aminoglycosides (Amikacin, Kanamycin, Streptomycin and others). Albeit the drugs of this group penetrate into breast milk in low concentrations, the possible toxicity for the baby’s hearing and kidneys does not allow them to be use in lactation.
  2. Tetracyclines (Doxycycline, Tetracycline) penetrate well into breast milk. They also negatively affect the growing infant’s body: due to the formation of complex molecular compounds with calcium, these drugs are able to disrupt the development of bone tissue and enamel.
  3. Fluoroquinolones (Ciprofloxocin) penetrate into mother’s milk in large amounts and are capable of causing disruption in the development of infant’s cartilaginous tissue.
  4. Lincomycin penetrates well into breast milk. Causes significant disturbances in the intestines of the baby.
  5. Clindomycin causes the development of pseudomembranous colitis in babies whose mothers used it in lactation.
  6. Sulfanilamides affect the exchange of bilirubin in newborns, which can lead to the reactive jaundice.

Breastfeeding after taking antibiotics

Breastfeeding on medication


If the mother was prescribed antibiotics from the last group (incompatible with lactation), the breastfeeding should be temporarily discontinued. End of story! However, this does not mean that breastfeeding after the course of treatment is no longer possible.

The best way to save your milk supply is to pump:

  1. Follow the schedule of your baby’s feedings (or pump every 3-4 hours)
  2. Do not forget about the night pumping, because it will help to release of prolactin, the hormone that supports lactation.
  3. Use electric breast pumps to make the process of milk expression easier and more convenient for you
  4. Take care of building freezed milk supply prepared in advance to feed your baby with your breastmilk while you take antibiotics. If it is not possible, you will have to temporarily switch your baby to the formula (consult a pediatrician with a right  choice of formula). In that case, use a pacifier with the small hole for the bottle that is close to the size of your nipple to avoid nipple confusion in the future (when you restart breastfeeding).

What you should tell your doctor

If you are a breastfeeding mother, make sure to inform your doctor about that. 

Antibiotics while breastfeeding

Points you should consider discussing:

  1. Tell the doctor you are breastfeeding. This is the most important thing to mention at the doctor’s appointment before he actually writes down the prescription.
  2. Inform your doctor about your  baby’s age and health problems, if any. In some cases even the allowed antibiotics might be forbidden, depending on the baby’s wellbeing in general.
  3. Tell the doctor if you are on any medication. Note that some antibiotics may react with other drugs and cause adverse effects in babies.
  4. Always ask your doctor if there are alternatives to taking antibiotics. Even if he prescribes antibiotics applied topically (if possible for your medical condition), it would be safer for the baby’s health than the most checked and allowed antibiotic taken orally. If your medical condition is not severe, your doctor can suggest some precautionary steps to treat it. That way, you can avoid consuming antibiotics.

The Ultimate Guide to Taking Antibiotics While Breastfeeding. Safe antibiotics in lactation. Forbidden antibiotics in breastfeeding moms, what you should tell your doctor, how to save your milk supply when taking antibiotics. Important questions answered.

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