The Importance Of Breastfeeding
Healthcare providers encourage mothers to breastfeed, citing the many health benefits breastfeeding offers. Babies that drink breastmilk regularly have stronger immune systems, lower hospitalization rates, and receive vital nutrients and minerals. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop ear infections, diarrhea, and respiratory infections. Women that breastfeed are at lower risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression. Breastfeeding also helps the uterus heal after childbirth.
Prescription medication during lactation
Many mothers may wonder if prescription medications are safe while breastfeeding a baby. Most medications taken by mouth travel through the bloodstream and get into breast milk. However, the amount of medication in the milk is generally quite low and not expected to pose a risk to the breastfed baby. Newborns, babies with medical issues, and premature infants are more susceptible to side effects from medications in milk.
What medications are safe?
Always check with a healthcare provider before taking any medication while breastfeeding. Many over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, decongestants, and antihistamines can be used without concern. For most antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, antibiotics, and seizure medications, the benefits of taking the prescription medication outweigh the possible risks. Opioids should be used short-term with caution, and illicit drugs should be avoided altogether.
Monitoring for side effects
While taking any medication, pay close attention to the baby’s appearance and behavior. An unusual rash may be a sign of a medical reaction. Take note of the baby’s sleeping and eating patterns. Sleeping too much, too little, or not waking to feed can indicate concern. Irritability, fussiness, and diarrhea are other common side effects from medications in milk. If the baby develops any concerning symptoms, get in contact with the pediatrician right away.
How can compounding help?
Combining multiple drugs or altering medications to create a unique formulation is called compounding. The compounding pharmacist can remove unnecessary ingredients, add flavor, change the drug’s strength or dosage, and alter the medication’s composition. Drug compounding can possibly make medication safer for breastfeeding mothers to take. Lowering the medication’s dosage or strength can reduce the levels found in breast milk. However, this should always be done cautiously as the lower strength may not offer the same benefits for the woman taking the medication. Changing the form or combining multiple medications into a single pill can be a helpful way for busy moms to remember to take medication.
An example of compounding
A common medication a mom may need compounded is a nipple ointment that relieves pain and chaffing while breastfeeding. Pharmacists can combine an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory, and an antifungal into a single soothing ointment to eliminate infection and reduce pain. With the correct formulation, breastfeeding can continue with ease.
Breastfeed with ease
Before taking any medication, patients should speak with a trusted physician and pharmacist. Although pumping and dumping is rarely required, there may be some situations where this is advised. In most cases, the healthcare provider will inform patients about what side effects to watch for in the baby while taking medication. Pharmacists can offer a wealth of information to breastfeeding mothers and perform compounding when required.