Health visitors have a pivotal role in supporting and monitoring breastfeeding, and may see mothers who are prescribed drugs while breastfeeding, either as a short course, such as antibiotics, or as a long-term therapy, such as antidepressants.
Prescribing during lactation is not straightforward and may cause dilemmas for mothers and health professionals when making decisions about which drugs to take. Many women avoid medicines due to inappropriate advice or concerns surrounding potential adverse effects on the infant.1
Advice on whether drugs should be continued or discontinued during breastfeeding should be discussed with the prescribing clinician to weigh up the risks and benefits, considering multiple factors involving both the mother and infant.1 Taking medication does not usually mean that a mother has to stop breastfeeding temporarily or permanently.
Although the number of drugs that are unsafe while breastfeeding is relatively small, there may be effects on the infant as a result of drug exposure that clinicians should be aware of when assessing infants.
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