Veronica asks, “I really want to breastfeed my baby when she is born, but I am afraid that if I get sick or need to take medication I will have to stop. Is there a way to take a temporary break from nursing if needed?”
The good news is that even if a nursing mother gets sick, we frequently encourage her to continue to breastfeed her baby. Her breastmilk will provide special protection against any illness to which she has been exposed. Continued nursing permits mothers to pass this protection directly to their infants through her precious breastmilk and keeps her milk supply up. In cases when a medication is required, the vast majority of medications are safe to take while breastfeeding. Only a very few are not considered safe, such as chemotherapy agents or radioactive drugs that may be used for diagnostic tests. To determine if the medication you are taking is safe, check with your or your baby's healthcare provider, lactation consultant or a pharmacist who is familiar with medications and breastfeeding.
Additionally, there is a new web resource from Texas Tech University Health Science Center, www.infantrisk.org that offers comprehensive information on drug safety during breastfeeding. In the rare case of a medication not being compatible with breastfeeding, we recommend pumping every three hours until the medication in question is out of your system.