What Can I Take When I’m Pregnant or Breastfeeding?

Cornelis Bega (Dutch, 1631/1632 – 1664 ), The Mother, , etching, Gift of Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow


Most pregnant or breastfeeding mothers have had the occasion to want to take an OTC medication, be it for a bad cold, allergies or a myriad of other reasons. But, while you might have happily taken the medication earlier, being pregnant or breastfeeding probably gives you pause for thought, and rightly so. How much could this affect the baby, you wonder?

First and foremost, you should clear use of any medication with your OB or midwife and your pediatrician before taking it. This includes OTC drugs, vitamins, supplements, herbal medications and prescription medications. Many drugs are fine to take during pregnancy or breastfeeding, but you always want  to make sure your medical team knows  what you are taking.

Generally, you want to avoid anything with pseudoephedrine if you are breastfeeding because it can diminish your milk supply.

Additionally, for breastfeeding mothers, there is a resource prized by lactation consultants, Medications and Mothers Milk, by Thomas W. Hale, Ph.D, a clinical pharmacologist. It is an exhaustive compendium of medications and the effect on breastfeeding infants. Your medical team may very likely consult this source when you make a query about medications.

And remember, the general rule of thumb is be conservative. If you don’t need the medication, don’t  take it.