I’m often asked by mothers who want to breastfeed about which psychiatric medication is safe.
First, I want you to know that it is a myth that you must quit breastfeeding if you are going to be treated for postpartum depression. I’m always saddened to hear of moms who refuse to seek treatment because they are afraid they will be made to quit, or whose doctors tell them they must because they’ll be on medication. That’s just not true.
Certainly, if you feel that it is better for you to formula feed that is a perfectly acceptable choice. Also, therapy alone is a good option for some mothers. If you need to take medication, though, you still don’t have to quit. There are certain medications that have been well studied and, according to the MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health, are “… considered to be relatively safe for use during breastfeeding when clinically warranted …”
I wanted to offer you some resources for those of you who plan to breastfeed but must also take an antidepressant or other psychiatric medication for the treatment of your postpartum depression or related illness.
Breastfeeding and Medication from Massachusetts Center for Women’s Mental Health
- Breastfeeding & Psychiatric Medications
- Can Paxil Be Used While Breastfeeding?
- Lamotrigine and Breastfeeding
- Can Women Taking Lithium Breastfeed Their Infants?
Other Resources for Breastfeeding Moms
OTIS Fact Sheets:
Note: The OTIS fact sheets have primarily information on taking these medications during pregnancy, but they address their use during breastfeeding toward the end of each fact sheet.
Also, when you read resources written by clinicians, you may notice they do not use the marketing or brand name of the drug but the clinical name, so I’m giving you a little glossary here so you’ll know to which medication they are referring:
fluoxetine = Prozac
sertraline = Zoloft
citalopram = Celexa
paroxetine = Paxil
venlafexine = Effexor
buproprion = Wellbutrin
escitalopram = Lexapro
lamotrigine = Lamictal