Safe Pain Killers When Breastfeeding

Any mother who has breastfed will tell you about a certain food that she ate that made her baby fussy or gassy. If something as innocuous as eating a green pepper has an adverse effect on your baby, you may think taking a pain killer is out of the question. Check with your doctor before using any medication during pregnancy, but several pain killers are considered safe when breastfeeding.


A common over-the-counter medication used to treat a variety of ailments, ibuprofen is a good choice for pain when breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics deemed it safe due to the low amounts measured in breast milk. A study by R.J. Townsend in the "American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology" showed that mothers who took the recommended dose transferred less than 1 mg of the drug to their babies.


Another common household pain reliever, acetaminophen can be found on its own or as part of a cold or flu medicine. The AAP and the World Health Organization Working Group on Drugs and Human Lactation also deemed acetaminophen safe for breastfeeding mothers. The Organization of Teratology Information Specialists reports that a breastfed baby will ingest less acetaminophen from his mother than the dose a doctor would prescribe for an infant experiencing pain.


Codeine is a stronger pain killer that is sometimes prescribed in conjunction with acetaminophen. If over-the-counter medication does not help a breastfeeding mother, a doctor may suggest codeine. This drug does end up in a mother's milk, but for most women, a low dose taken for a short time is harmless to a baby. However, some women have a gene that quickly metabolizes codeine into morphine. These mothers run the risk of transferring morphine to their babies through breast milk. Unusual sleepiness, difficulty feeding and breathing problems are signs that your baby has ingested too much codeine or morphine. Seek immediate medical attention for these symptoms.


A report from the University of California-San Diego suggests that the opioid hydrocodone is safe in low doses for breastfeeding mothers. The study estimated that an infant would ingest a fraction of the dose a doctor would prescribe for an older baby, but other experts recommend caution since the drug may remain in the body of younger infants longer. As with codeine, over-the-counter pain killers should be tried before resorting to the stronger hydrocodone. Similar symptoms of toxicity to those associated with codeine should be reported to your doctor immediately.

references & resources
Load Comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.