Can I Take Advil While Breastfeeding?

breastfeeding person touching head

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Giving birth is grueling. No matter how quick or “easy” your labor was, it was also probably pretty painful. Between postpartum headaches, uterine contractions, pain from a cesarean section or vaginal birth, and sore, cracked nipples while breastfeeding, it’s no wonder new parents go searching for some pain relief.

You may be wondering if Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen) is safe for a breastfeeding parent. The answer is yes. When taken in the proper dosage, very little medicine is passed to the baby through milk, and studies have shown that parents taking Advil does not cause an adverse risk in the infant.

“Minimal amounts of ibuprofen and acetaminophen enter breast milk,” says Amy Peterson, IBCLC, lactation consultant for Evenflo Feeding and co-author of “Balancing Breast and Bottle: Feeding Your Baby.”

What Is Advil?

Advil is considered a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It’s often used for headaches, tooth pain, menstrual cramps, muscle aches, and inflammation. Advil and Motrin are both brand-name drugs that contain ibuprofen.

New parents might want to reach for Advil during the painful postpartum period. “If the mother is experiencing pain, and the cause of pain is inflammation, such as with engorgement, mastitis, etc., ibuprofen is a good choice,” says Peterson. She adds that ibuprofen is usually recommended if a nursing parent is experiencing mastitis. “She should always check with her own healthcare provider before deciding which medication is best for her situation,” Peterson says.

Advil is different than Tylenol, which contains Acetaminophen. Both Advil and Tylenol are deemed safe for breastfeeding people to take while nursing.

Is It Safe to Take Advil While Breastfeeding?


It is considered safe for nursing parents to take Advil while breastfeeding. “You can use ibuprofen while breastfeeding and can take up to the daily maximum dose without any negative impacts on your child,” says Navya Mysore, MD, national program medical director for Sexual & Reproductive Health at One Medical.

Dr Mysore adds: “Keep in mind that low levels of the medication do pass into breastmilk, but studies have shown that these low levels are safe for your child. The maximum daily dose for ibuprofen is 1200 mg but I do recommend starting with the lowest dose and taking more as needed.”

By starting with a lower amount every six to eight hours, you’ll be able to figure out how much you need to dull your pain while also keeping the amount that goes into breast milk at a minimum. “That being said, if you are in pain, please take the safest dose that you need,” Mysore advises.

Lactation consultants base medications on a chart that evaluates the risk level for each drug. The sliding scale system was created by Dr. Thomas Hale and the World Health Organization. their training on a sliding scale of risk. The ratings vary between L1 (safest) to L5 (contraindicated).

“Advil is under the lowest risk category (L1) and is the safest. These medications have a lot of controlled studies which have all been proven safe and do not demonstrate any risk to the baby,” says Cristina Gordon, certified lactation consultant and counselor.

Every breastfeeding journey is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about taking Advil while breastfeeding.

Safety Precautions

Although Advil is safe to take while breastfeeding, there are some precautions to be aware of.

General Side Effects

There are standard risks when taking medications, breastfeeding or not. “Allergic reaction to medication is always a risk,” Peterson says. “How the medication reacts with other medications a mother is taking must be considered as well. Overuse of ibuprofen has been linked with kidney and liver complications.”

Furthermore, anyone with asthma is advised to abstain from taking Advil. “I would be careful if you have a history of acid reflux or gastritis as ibuprofen can worsen your symptoms,” warns Mysore. “Similarly, if you have moderate to severe asthma, please be careful with how much ibuprofen you are taking as it can trigger bronchospasms which is when you have wheezing episodes with asthma.”

Timing Matters

To feel even more at ease about taking this pain-reliever, pay attention to when you actually swallow the pill. “Ibuprofen has a short adult half-life—1.8-2.5 hours,” says Peterson. “A short adult half-life (one to three hours) means the level of medication will likely be diminishing when baby is ready to feed again.”

Peterson suggests that you feed your baby, and then take the medication right away. By the time the baby is ready to feed again, two to three hours later, the level in your body has significantly lowered.

Avoid Advil While Pregnant

It’s also worth noting that although it’s fine for a nursing parent to take Advil, it’s not recommended during pregnancy, especially in the second half of the pregnancy. Studies have linked the drug to low amniotic fluid levels, low birth weight, and heart problems in the baby.

A Word From Verywell

Breastfeeding can be a painful process. If you need to reach for Advil while nursing, it is safe to do so. Very little medicine will enter your milk and reach the baby. Remember to consult with an OBGYN, midwife, or healthcare provider if you have additional questions or concerns.

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Article Sources
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