Is It Safe To Take Ibuprofen While Breastfeeding? What Experts Advise

When looking at the label on a bottle of ibuprofen (common brand names include Advil and Motrin IB), you'll find that its intended use is for adults and children at least 12 years of age as a mild pain reliever for headaches, muscle aches, and other aches and pains. As with all medications, however, there can be exceptions or special considerations to take into account when it comes to usage. For example, is it considered safe for breastfeeding adults to take ibuprofen?

Just as the chemicals in our medications get dispersed into our bloodstream, traces of the drug can also be transferred through breast milk, according to experts at the Mayo Clinic. Therefore, amounts of the medication can be passed along to the baby. However, it's important to remember that these amounts are minimal and are generally not considered dangerous to infants. In fact, a 2014 study published in Therapeutic Drug Monitoring found that not even 0.38% of the weight-adjusted maternal daily dose of ibuprofen transferred to infants through breast milk.

Consult your physician beforehand

As a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), ibuprofen stops inflammation in its tracks. To do so, it hinders the production of inflammation-related chemicals in the body and thereby reduces subsequent fever, swelling, and pain (via WebMD).

However, because ibuprofen can put one at risk for stomach bleeding and other potential side effects, it may not be appropriate for those with certain health conditions, such as anemia, high blood pressure, stroke, and liver disease. For these individuals, it is best to first consult with your physician. Similarly, those who are breastfeeding are also encouraged to speak with their doctor before usage. For breastfeeding people with stomach ulcers, ibuprofen would not be considered safe.

Although highly unlikely, some babies may experience vomiting or diarrhea if exposed to ibuprofen through breast milk, according to experts at The Recovery Village. Generally speaking, however, ibuprofen is considered safe for healthy, breastfeeding adults, reports the Mayo Clinic. The same is true for some other types of pain-relief medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or naproxen sodium (Aleve). Naproxen sodium should not be used on a long-term basis, however. 

What to do if you have concerns about taking ibuprofen

If you are breastfeeding and have reservations about taking ibuprofen during this time, consider making adjustments to when during the day you take the medication. Ibuprofen levels will be highest in the body within one to two hours of taking it, reports Healthline. Therefore, rather than taking it before breastfeeding, try taking it right after. This will leave a longer length of time between peak levels of the medication and feedings.

Postpartum pain is not uncommon. This can include uterine cramping, neck or back pain, incision pain, swelling of the breasts, and more, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If you prefer to avoid ibuprofen altogether, there are alternative pain-relief methods that may prove helpful. For cramps, incision pain, or neck, back, or joint pain, try applying a heating pad to the area. Alternatively, for swollen breasts or a perineal tear, a cold compress may help alleviate the discomfort.