Pregnancy information

Breastfeeding & medicines

Most medicines can be taken while you're breastfeeding without harming your baby.

But it's always best to tell your GP, health visitor, dentist, pharmacist or midwife that you're breastfeeding, when discussing medicines.

Small amounts of any medicine you take may pass through your breast milk to your baby.

Generally, the amounts are very low and very few medicines are unsafe while you're breastfeeding.

You should also let your GP know if your baby was premature or had jaundice when they were born, as this may affect what medicines you can take.

What medicines can I take while I'm breastfeeding?

Medicines that can be taken while breastfeeding include:

  • most antibiotics
  • asthma inhalers
  • vitamins (but only at the recommended dose)
  • the painkiller paracetamol – you should check with a GP or midwife before taking paracetamol if it's combined with other medicines

You should check with a GP or midwife before taking any other types of painkillers, such as ibuprofen.

You can use some methods of contraception and some cold remedies, but not all.

You can take some medicines used to treat postnatal depression, but always check with a GP, your midwife, health visitor or a pharmacist, who can advise you.

It's fine to have dental treatments, local anaesthetics, routine vaccinations (including MMR, tetanus, flu and COVID-19) and most operations.

Is there anything I can't take while I'm breastfeeding?

Common drugs that aren't recommended when you're breastfeeding include:

  • codeine phosphate

  • decongestants that come as tablets, liquids or powders that you swallow

  • some nasal decongestants that come as nose sprays or drops – check with a GP or pharmacist before using them

  • aspirin for pain relief

  • herbal remedies – not enough is known about herbal remedies to guarantee they're safe to use when breastfeeding

Talk to you GP or pharmacist before taking antihistamines for allergies or allergy-related conditions, such as hay fever.

For more information: 

Your GP or pharmacist may like to look at the British National Formulary for Children (BNFC) to see what medicines can be given to babies and children, as these are likely to be safe for mothers to take when breastfeeding.

Illegal drugs and breastfeeding

It's dangerous to take illegal drugs while you're breastfeeding. They can affect your ability to look after your baby safely, and reach your baby via your breast milk.

The long-term effects on babies if you use illegal drugs while breastfeeding aren't known. Talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP if you're using them.


Click here to view Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board breastfeeding booklet for more information on breastfeeding.

Last Updated: 25/05/2023 10:30:18
The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website