Ideally, you should not take any medications while expectant and breastfeeding.
However, when you experience pain, a fever, or an inflammation you’re really tempted to take acetaminophen.
Analgesics alleviate pain and antipyretics lower high body temperatures.
As with most medication, traces of OTC (Over the Counter) pain relievers can be transferred to your baby through your breast milk.
Does acetaminophen have similar side effects?
Is it safe for you and your baby?
What Does Acetaminophen Treat?
Acetaminophen is a prescription drug which is also sold over the counter. It is used to commonly treat fever, headache, and pain.
Acetaminophen is prescribed after childbirth to help alleviate postpartum pain.
Moreover, it can be used to cure the discomfort associated with common breastfeeding problems such as breast engorgement, mastitis, sore nipples and plugged milk ducts.
It is also used to treat fever and mild pain in children and infants.
Taking Acetaminophen When Breastfeeding
It is considered safe to take Acetaminophen while you’re breastfeeding.
This is because of only a small amount of the drug transfers into the breast milk which healthy, full-term newborns can handle really well.
There are no notable contraindications for taking the pain reliever while breastfeeding.
No birth defects have been reported with the use of acetaminophen at recommended doses. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization support the use of acetaminophen while breastfeeding.
Medications and Breast Milk
Normally when you take medicine, the drug starts to break down or metabolize as soon as you ingest it. As it breaks down, it transfers into your system.
Once the drug is in your blood, a small percentage of the medication passes through your breast milk.
How soon you take the medicine before pumping or nursing can impact the amount of the medication present in the breast milk consumed by your baby.
Acetaminophen will generally reach its peak level one to two hours after being ingested.
It should therefore not be taken more than every six hours.
If you’re concerned about passing the medication to your baby, try and time your dose after breastfeeding so that more time passes before your baby’s next feeding.
If available, your baby can take the breast milk expressed before taking acetaminophen, or formula.
The recommended adult dose of Acetaminophen is 325 mg to 650 mg taken every 4 to 6 hours. However, it is advisable to consult the doctor for correct dosing instructions before consuming any medications.
Women who are nursing can consume Acetaminophen up to their daily maximum dose without any negative effect on either them or their babies.
A 1984 study found that moms who took 400 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen every 6 hours released less than 1 mg of the medication through their breast milk. For comparison purposes, a dosage of infant-strength ibuprofen is 50 milligrams.
If your baby is consuming acetaminophen as well, you don’t have to adjust their dose.
To be on the safe side, consult a pharmacist or the baby’s doctor about the dose before administering it.
Even though the drug is safe to ingest while breastfeeding, you should not consume more than the maximum dose.
Limit the supplements, herbs, and medicines you ingest to reduce the probability of side effects for you and your baby. Use hot or cold packs for aches and injuries instead.
Don’t take acetaminophen if you have a peptic ulcer. This medication can lead to gastric bleeding.
Taking acetaminophen if you have asthma can cause bronchospasms. You should, therefore, avoid it.
Side-Effects of Acetaminophen While Breastfeeding
Even though the drug is safe to consume, it can trigger several side effects which are however rare, they include:
Nervous system: psychomotor and psychoemotional agitation, dizziness.
Skin: Stevens: Johnson syndrome, angioedema, various kinds of rashes, and skin itching.
Gastrointestinal tract: vomiting and nausea, increased liver enzymes, abdominal pain, and hepatonecrosis.
The circulatory system: aplastic anemia, anemia, sulfhemoglobinemia, pancytopenia, and leukopenia.
Genitourinary system: papillary necrosis, interstitial nephritis, and renal colic.
In case you overdose, which can occur five to ten hours after ingesting the acetaminophen, the patient can experience gastrointestinal disorders, dizziness, cerebral edema, arrhythmia, kidney disease, convulsions and shortness of breath.
In conclusion, the pain reliever does appear to be among the better drugs that a breastfeeding mom can take to relieve pain.
This information will likely be a relief for moms suffering from breast pain and other problems that require a mild, over-the-counter pain reliever.
The medication is an excellent choice due to how well it’s broken down in your body and how little of it goes through breast milk to your baby.
It’s, however, better to be safe than sorry, consult your doctor before taking any over-the-counter drugs.