Can I Take Ibuprofen When Breastfeeding? Is It Safe For Baby?

  • Ibuprofen is a drug used to treat fever, pain and inflammation
  • The use of Ibuprofen is generally safe while breastfeeding
  • Most medicines can pass into breast milk in small amounts
  • Learn the risk factors of taking Ibuprofen while breastfeeding

When you are a nursing mother, everything you take, including medicines, needs to be checked to see whether or not it is safe for your baby.

It is possible you were used to taking certain medications without any side effects before you were pregnant. However, now that you are breastfeeding your baby, it is important to know whether or not these medicines can mix with your breastmilk and how it may affect your baby.

One such medicine that many of us take without thinking too much about is ibuprofen. If you ever asked yourself ‘Can I take ibuprofen when breastfeeding’, then this article is just for you!

To help ease your confusion and worries, we will tell you whether taking ibuprofen while breastfeeding can have any effect on your little one, how to take it in the safest way if you absolutely need to take it, and what you need to keep in mind when looking for medicines that are safe to be consumed while breastfeeding.

What is ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a type of anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drug that is used to treat basic fever, pain and inflammation. It can also effectively help to treat menstrual pains, migraine pains and even, in some cases, rheumatoid arthritis. Some women take ibuprofen after a caesarean delivery, to help ease the pain at home.

Mostly known as ibuprofen, the drug is also known as Adran, Advil, Apsifen, Brufen, Bluton, Butylenin, Dolo-dolgit, Ebufac, Nuprin and more. It an over-the-counter (OTC) drug, which means you do not need a prescription while buying. It is available in different forms including pill, syrup and more.

Can taking ibuprofen while breastfeeding harm the baby?

There is need for more research to find out the exact effects of taking ibuprofen while breastfeeding. However, the few medical and scientific studies that have been conducted on breastfeeding women show that using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, for a short period of time, does not have any adverse effects on the baby. 

It was also found that using ibuprofen for a long period of time is generally safe while breastfeeding, as it does not contain any active metabolites (an active metabolite takes place when the body metabolizes a drug so that the effects of the drug remain active for a long period of time).

Sometimes, it may be important that you have to take ibuprofen while breastfeeding. In such a situation, the best way to reduce the effects of the drug on your baby is by taking it immediately after you breastfeed. This will ensure that you do not breastfeed baby when the effect of the drug is at its peak.

Here’s why it is important to be careful about the medicines you take when you breastfeed

Most medicines you take while breastfeeding do pass into your breastmilk, but the amount is so small that it may have negligible or no effect on your baby. The amount of drug that your baby may receive through the breastmilk is significantly lower than the safe dosage of the same drug that is prescribed for babies through direct administration.

However, it is always important to be careful about any medication you take while breastfeeding, as, in some cases, even the slightest impact may prove harmful for your baby.

In case your baby gets exposed to the drug through breastmilk, here are a few factors that will help to determine its effects on your baby:

how much ibuprofen can i take while breastfeeding
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    Timing when the dosage was taken: The effect will be least if you take the drug right after breastfeeding, while it will be at its peak if you take the drug just before breastfeeding.

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    Premature or full-term: Premature babies find it harder to metabolize the drug and remove it from their systems, so that the effect, whether negligible or a little higher, will be more as compared to full-term babies.

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    Previous case of in-utero exposure: If you were regularly taking the drug during pregnancy, your baby may have gotten exposed to it in-utero. In such a scenario, further exposure through breastfeeding may increase the concentration of drug in your baby’s body.

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    Exclusive or comfort breastfeeding: The amount of breastmilk your baby receives will also contribute to the effect of the drug on your baby. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, the amount of milk received will be higher as compared to a baby who breastfeeds only for comfort.

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    Age of the baby: The effect of drugs passed through breastmilk is highest in infants who are below the age of two months. Also, there is barely any adverse effect of drugs passed through breastmilk in babies who are six months and above. 

Checking with your healthcare provider about breastfeeding-safe medicines: Why it is important

Your doctor is always the best person to guide you about medication, especially when you are breastfeeding. While most regular medicines will not have any effect on baby through breastfeeding, it eventually depends on a lot of other factors too (mentioned earlier).

If it is absolutely necessary to prescribe you ibuprofen while you breastfeed, your doctor will take the following into consideration:

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    Prescribe the lowest possible dosage to keep any effects on baby at the minimum.

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    Check for alternative methods that can help cure the condition, without the need for medication.

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    Inform you properly to take the medicine after you breastfeed and not before, so that there is least chance of any dosage mixing in the milk.

Risk factors to watch out for

Though it is generally considered safe, check with your doctor on these health points if you are going to take ibuprofen while breastfeeding. 

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    If you have suffered from cardiovascular diseases in the past.

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    If you suffered from high blood pressure while you were pregnant.

Can ibuprofen pass on to the baby while breastfeeding? What dosage is safe?

The thing that most breastfeeding moms worry about is how much dosage is safe to take when you are breastfeeding. One very common question that many moms ask is, ‘Can I take ibuprofen 800 mg while breastfeeding?’ or ‘How much ibuprofen can i take while breastfeeding?’

Here is a little look at what dosage could be good for you and baby.

can i take while breastfeeding

The journey of the medicine from the time you ingest it till it actually reaches your baby is quite exhaustive. First, the medicine reaches your bloodstream, from where it reaches the milk and then gets stored in your baby’s gut. From there, the medicine moves to your baby’s bloodstream. By this time, the amount of dosage and its effects are already too negligible to make any impact.

A study was conducted with 12 breastfeeding mothers, where each mother ingested a 400mg ibuprofen tablet every 6 hours for 24 hours. Blood samples were collected for 36 hours, the first sample being collected just before the first dose of ibuprofen was taken. It was found that breastfeeding mothers, who take up to 400mg of ibuprofen every 6 hours, have less than 1mg of the same in their breast milk each day. 

It is suggested that if you do take ibuprofen while you are breastfeeding, check with your doctor and try taking a dosage of 400mg. While there may not be any adverse effects on your baby, it is always best to take the required precautions.

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