Can I Take Tamiflu While Breastfeeding?

Black mother with baby reading pill bottle

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There's never a good time to come down with the flu, especially not when you're breastfeeding. Having to nurse or pump at regular intervals while you are fighting off a virus can be exhausting. You might feel anxious about making your baby sick, and wonder whether antiviral medicine is safe to take while breastfeeding.

If fact, if you do contract the flu while breastfeeding, it is recommended that you take Tamiflu (oseltamivir). Tamiflu is unlikely to have any effect on your infant and it won't hurt your milk supply. It's especially important to treat the flu with Tamiflu if you catch it within the first two weeks postpartum when you are at a high risk of complications.

Taking Tamiflu helps you get better as soon as possible so that there is a lower chance of passing the virus to your baby. If you do end up with the flu while you are breastfeeding, there are a few things you need to know about treating it and feeding your baby.

What Is Tamiflu?

Tamiflu is a prescription medication that treats influenza, commonly known as the flu. It works by stopping the virus from multiplying and lessening flu symptoms. To be effective, Tamiflu needs to be taken within the first two days of flu symptoms. It can also be taken as a preventive measure, if you think you have been exposed to the flu.

Is It Safe to Take Tamiflu While Breastfeeding?

Tamiflu is considered safe to take while breastfeeding. Not much of the drug makes it into your breast milk in the first place and it is unlikely to affect your baby. "An adult dose of 75 milligrams taken twice daily for five days is unlikely to adversely affect a nursing infant," notes Allyson Curley RN, IBCLC, a certified lactation consultant at St. Joseph Medical Center at the University of Maryland.

Can I Breastfeed While I Have the Flu?

You can't pass the flu virus to your baby through your breast milk. On the contrary, your milk provides antibodies that can help protect your little one from becoming infected.

It is recommended that you continue to breastfeed your baby while you have the flu. If you are very sick or your baby is very young, you might consider separating from your baby and expressing your milk to be fed to them by an alternative caretaker.

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

Benefits of Tamiflu While Breastfeeding

There are several reasons why you might want to take Tamiflu if you get the flu while breastfeeding.

Helps You Feel Better Sooner

Tamiflu slows the flu virus's ability to replicate itself so you won't keep getting sicker. It also provides symptom relief. Feeling better and healing sooner is one of the major benefits of taking this medicine. "When a nursing mother feels better, she’s likely to have more stamina, more patience, and a more peaceful frame of mind—all essential for successful breastfeeding," notes Curley.

Helps You Avoid Complications From the Flu

Getting the flu puts you at risk for complications such as bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, or sinus infections. During the first two weeks postpartum, you are in a high-risk group for these kinds of complications. Tamiflu slows the virus's ability to replicate in your body, making it less likely for you to face more serious illnesses.

Reduces Your Infant's Chance of Catching the Flu

It is important to protect your baby from the flu, particularly newborns, who are at a high risk of complications if they catch it. In some cases, a temporary separation between you and your baby may be recommended. During this time, you are encouraged to pump your breast milk so that your temporary caregiver can feed it to your baby.

The sooner you recover, the sooner your baby can be back in your arms. Even if you do not separate from your child, you will need to take extra precautions to prevent spreading the virus to them. Getting better means you can stop worrying about this. "Taking Tamiflu not only protects you but also your baby or others around you from getting sick from the flu," says Dr. Contreras.

Safety Precautions

There are some safety precautions to keep in mind if you take Tamiflu while breastfeeding.

Ask Your Provider First

Tamiflu is generally safe for the nursing baby and the breastfeeding parent. But there are some people who should not take Tamiflu. "These would include people with a sensitivity to the medication or prior reaction," says Erica Contreras, MD, an OB/GYN with UM Charles Regional Medical Group. "Also, for people with renal disease, the dose would be adjusted."

Use Best Practices to Avoid Spreading the Flu to Your Infant

It is important to remember that you may still be contagious after you have begun taking Tamiflu. With this in mind, continue to do your best to keep your infant from being infected, by doing things such as washing your hands frequently and avoiding kissing your baby's face.

If you have another caretaker and you are too sick to feed your baby or you are concerned about infecting them, pumping your milk is an option. Remember to wash your hands before pumping or preparing bottles. "If you are using a pump, carefully follow the recommendations for proper cleaning," notes Curley.

Stick to the Recommended Dosage

What we know about taking Tamiflu while breastfeeding is based on the recommended amount of 75 milligrams twice per day for five consecutive days. Research that taking this amount results in insignificant quantities in the breast milk that are unlikely to harm a baby.

We don't know if taking more than this amount could result in higher concentrations in breast milk that could potentially have adverse effects. For this reason, take only the recommended dosage and no more.

A Word From Verywell

Tamiflu is safe to take while breastfeeding. This antiviral medication is recommended if you catch the flu within the first two weeks postpartum because you are at a high risk of complications from the flu during this time.

Taking Tamiflu can help you feel better sooner and reduce your baby's risk of becoming infected. Just remember that for it to be effective, you need to start taking Tamiflu within the first two days of your flu symptoms.

You should continue breastfeeding while you are sick, but you might consider pumping if you have another caretaker who can help. Always use best practices such as washing your hands frequently and not kissing your baby's face to reduce their chance of becoming sick.

If you have any questions or concerns about taking Tamiflu while breastfeeding, always reach out to your healthcare provider.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Indications. Tamiflu.

  3. Guidance for the Prevention and Control of Influenza in the Peri- and Postpartum Settings. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  4. Key Facts About Influenza (Flu). Centers on Disease Control and Prevention.