Is It Okay to Take Ibuprofen While Breastfeeding?

Is it okay to take ibuprofen while breastfeeding? Ibuprofen is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or an NSAID. Ibuprofen and brand name versions like Advil and Motrin can be used to help treat fever, as well as headaches and muscle aches. All NSAIDs work similarly to one another. They temporarily reduce prostaglandins, which are released when you have an injury and cause inflammation. Inflammation in the body can cause fever, swelling, and increased pain sensitivity. While ibuprofen is commonly used, it can cause side effects in some people. Ibuprofen side effects can include nausea, vomiting and other stomach problems, as well as heartburn. If someone takes ibuprofen for a long time, serious side effects may occur such as an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and problems with kidney function and blood pressure. Severe side effects are rare though.

During pregnancy, the use of ibuprofen and other NSAIDs is not advised. If NSAIDs, including Advil and Motrin, are used during the first trimester of pregnancy, it can cause an increased risk of miscarriage. If NSAIDs are used during later trimesters, these medications can increase the risk of certain heart defects. NSAIDs used close to delivery can also increase the bleeding risk for the mother.

How Can Ibuprofen Affect Your Baby?

Overall, NSAIDs are probably safe to take during breastfeeding. However, a nursing mother should speak to her doctor before taking anything.

Motrin is one of the most commonly used medications to relieve pain following childbirth. It can also help with pain related to breastfeeding, and certain conditions breastfeeding can cause like plugged milk ducts and mastitis. Infants and children can take Motrin safely in most cases. The amount of ibuprofen that would reach a baby through breastmilk is small in comparison to the dose that a doctor would prescribe an infant for treating something like a fever.

Ibuprofen is considered by many doctors as the best OTC pain reliever to take while breastfeeding. The amount that passes to a nursing baby is almost undetectable. Also, unlike many narcotic pain medicines, ibuprofen doesn’t cause drowsiness or sedation. This makes it safer for a nursing mom and her baby in an indirect way. The only reason a nursing mom shouldn’t take ibuprofen, such as Advil or Motrin, would be if she had a pre-existing condition that wouldn’t make her a good candidate, such as a stomach ulcer. The only possible symptoms that might occur if a baby is exposed to ibuprofen are diarrhea or vomiting, which are rare. If this does occur, the baby should be taken to the doctor or the doctor should be contacted right away.

Alternatives to Taking Ibuprofen While Breastfeeding

The most common alternative medication that people will use is acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in OTC pain medicines like Tylenol. Acetaminophen is also available in prescription formulations. It may be prescribed to help relieve postpartum and breastfeeding pain as well. A small amount of acetaminophen can transfer into breastmilk, but it’s still considered safe while breastfeeding as well. Aspirin is another common alternative to ibuprofen that’s an OTC pain reliever. It should not be used during breastfeeding in most cases. Aspirin is associated with Reye’s syndrome when its given directly to an infant or child. It isn’t likely to cause Reye’s syndrome if it’s passed through breastmilk, but sometimes it’s better just to avoid the risk altogether.

A breastfeeding mother might opt for natural pain relief remedies instead of taking an OTC medicine like Advil or Motrin. Hot and cold compresses can be a way to help with mild pain and inflammation. Curcumin is the active compound found in turmeric, and using it as a supplement or in cooking can be helpful to fight pain and inflammation; however, you should talk to your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements while breastfeeding. For ongoing pain, things like massage or acupuncture may be therapeutic for breastfeeding mothers.

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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.