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When you’re pregnant and experience any type of pain, many doctors recommend taking Tylenol because it doesn’t harm the fetus, but what about when you’re breastfeeding? With rare exceptions, most breastfeeding moms can also take Tylenol without any harm to the infant. Although most medications you take will pass through the breast milk to your baby, the amount the baby gets is next to nothing, making Tylenol a very safe OTC medication for breastfeeding moms to take.

 

What Is Tylenol?

Tylenol is a brand of acetaminophen, which is an analgesic and a pain reliever. If you’ve ever wondered what pain medication is safe while breastfeeding, most doctors will tell you to take Tylenol. In contrast, medications such as Motrin and Advil contain something called ibuprofen. Even better, acetaminophen does a great job of relieving all types of pain, including headaches and pain from childbirth, breastfeeding, C-sections, menstruation, and even colds and flu.

This brings us to another point -- whether or not breastfeeding while sick is a good idea. In fact, with rare exceptions that include illnesses such as HIV and chickenpox, doctors will tell you that you can breastfeed even if you have a cold or the flu. You can wear a mask and wash your hands frequently to prevent the baby from getting too many germs, but otherwise you can breastfeed as you normally would.

Indeed, Tylenol and other brands of acetaminophen help relieve all types of pain and are safe to take while you’re breastfeeding. This includes breastfeeding pain such as sore nipples and engorged breasts, as well as fevers if you should ever experience one while breastfeeding.

This being said, a few precautions that you’ll need to follow include:

  • Never drink alcohol while you’re taking Tylenol
  • Always watch the dosage you’re taking

Regular Tylenol has 325 mg of acetaminophen in it, and the higher the dosage, the more acetaminophen will seep into the breast milk. Nevertheless, most doctors will tell you that as long as you’re not getting more than 4000 mg of acetaminophen per day, you and the baby are both safe. If you take more than 4000 mg per day, you can risk damage to your liver.

 

More About Dosages

So, if you’ve asked yourself, can I take Tylenol 500 mg while breastfeeding, or even, can I take 1000 mg of Tylenol while breastfeeding, the answer should be “yes,” as long as you don’t take more than 4000 mg in a 24-hour period. Keep in mind, however, that the larger doses may mean that a little more of it will pass through the breast milk to your baby, which is something to consider.

If you are also taking doctor-approved cold or flu medication that contains acetaminophen, you’ll have to add that dosage to what you’re getting when you take Tylenol on its own. To be sure, if you take Tylenol according to the directions, which usually includes two tablets every four to six hours, you should be safe, but if you have any concerns whatsoever about your doses, you should err on the side of caution.

 

Not All Medications Are Safe for Breastfeeding Moms

Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen are safe to take while you’re breastfeeding, but that doesn’t apply to all medications. While you’re breastfeeding, the doctor may tell you to continue with the prescription medications that you were taking before the pregnancy, but as a general rule, you need to be honest with your doctor and let them know about everything that you take on a regular basis.

As a layperson, you will not know which medicines are safe and which are unsafe for breastfeeding moms, which is why you need to let the doctor know about everything that you’re taking. Even herbal supplements need to be disclosed because these are not regulated; therefore, you’ll have no idea what effect they have on you. In short, never take any type of medicine, vitamin, or herbal supplements without running them through your doctor first.

Most drugs are rated according to a system developed by Dr. Thomas Hale, with L1 being the safest drugs and L5 being the drugs with contraindications; in other words, they are the least safe. Acetaminophen, including the Tylenol brand, falls under the L1 rating, which means that it has been through a lot of studies and no adverse effects have been found to occur.

You can also use Tylenol when you’re breastfeeding if you suffer with muscle aches, sore throats, soreness from vaccinations, joint pain, toothaches, and basic arthritis pain. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that pediatricians even give Tylenol to infants for various types of pain.

Some of the other medications considered safe for breastfeeding moms include:

  • Naproxen sodium (Aleve), for short-term use only
  • Certain penicillins, including amoxicillin and ampicillin
  • Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert)
  • Fexofenadine (Allegra for allergies)
  • Miconazole (Monistat 3, Monistat 7)
  • Anything with pseudoephedrine in it, but use sparingly because it can decrease your milk supply

You might be surprised to find out how many medications are indeed safe for breastfeeding moms, but never take a chance; always check with your doctor first.

 

Conclusion

When you’re in pain and you’re a breastfeeding mom, you need to be cautious about what you take to relieve that pain. As a general rule, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is safe to take, whether you’re taking it for breast and nipple pain, C-section pain, or a simple headache. While you need to check with your doctor before you take any type of medication, it’s good to know that doctors almost always approve Tylenol because it has been proven to be safe when you’re breastfeeding.