Why does the need for medication become a barrier to breastfeeding? A narrative review

Alyson K. McClatchey, Alison Shield, Lynn H. Cheong, Sally L. Ferguson, Gabrielle M. Cooper, Gregory J. Kyle

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)


    Problem: The need for medication during lactation can contribute to the early cessation of breastfeeding. Background: Breastfeeding women may require medication for acute or chronic health conditions. For some women this need for medication can become a barrier to breastfeeding; this is despite the fact that the majority of medications are considered to be compatible with lactation. Aim: This narrative review aims to investigate factors relating to medicines safety that could contribute to medication unnecessarily becoming a barrier to breastfeeding. Methods: A selective literature search using PubMed, Scopus and Google Scholar was conducted over a 6-month period using the search terms "breastfeeding", "lactation", "medication" and "information". Articles were assessed to identify whether they addressed the impact of medication use on the decision to breastfeed. Findings: Fifty six articles were identified as having appropriate discussion about decision making for the safe use of medication during lactation. Themes identified included variable and conflicting safety advice for medicines; difficulty interpreting risks associated with medicine use; societal pressures faced by the breastfeeding woman; and the varied knowledge and training of health professionals involved in the care of breastfeeding women. Conclusion: Poor quality of information about medicine safety during lactation can contribute to confusion in giving recommendations. This confusion can result in early cessation of breastfeeding or insufficient health care for the breastfeeding woman.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)362-366
    Number of pages5
    JournalWomen and Birth
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


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