Information products that give advice on medicines and breastfeeding

Vanessa Chapman, Associate Professional Lead for Medicines Information, Midlands & East, Midlands and East Medicines Advice Service (Midlands site) & UK Drugs in Lactation Advisory ServicePublished

This page lists SPS resources and other information products that can help registered pharmacy professionals advising patients and other healthcare professionals on the safe use of medicines during breastfeeding.

It’s important to note that the evidence base in this area requires professional interpretation, therefore choosing good sources of information is vital.

SPS Breastfeeding resources

SPS produces Medicines specific advice during breastfeeding which we would always advise checking first. You can also read more about how we put our content together.

You may also be interested in our other pages in this area: Why breastfeeding is important and how pharmacy can help, Questions to ask when giving advice on medicines and breastfeeding, and Advising on medicines regimens during breastfeeding

Our top 3 additional suggestions

In addition to our own resources, we particularly recommend the following top 3:

NHS website: Medicines A-Z

  • We particularly recommend this for patients and for patient-facing material
  • It contains information for patients on a wide range of commonly used medicines, including over the counter medicines
  • Each webpage for an individual medicine has a section on pregnancy and breastfeeding in patient-friendly language

Medicines Learning Portal

  • We recommend this to support the training of the pharmacy team
  • It contains a tutorial on breastfeeding written in conjunction with UKDILAS.

GP Infant Feeding Network

  • We also recommend this to find out more about best practice in healthy infant feeding in general, including breastfeeding
  • It gives practical advice on feeding related issues, e.g. mastitis, candida infection, vitamin D supplementation

Other products you may find useful

In addition to the above, and particularly if you find yourself answering a lot of enquiries about medicine use in breastfeeding, you may find these additional resources helpful:

NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries

  • Guidelines advise on the management of conditions in breastfeeding mothers and there is also a specific guideline on breastfeeding problems

Electronic Medicines Compendium

  • Summaries of Product Characteristics (SmPCs) and Patient Information Leaflets (PILs)
  • This information clarifies the licensed status of a medicine’s use during breastfeeding and is not clinical advice. Manufacturers generally take a very cautious approach because of a lack of data
  • This should not be used as a sole information source for these types of medicines-related question

BNF

  • Statements on use of medicines during breastfeeding are brief and may be based largely on SmPC statements. As such, the information is generally over cautious and gives little additional guidance over and above the SmPC

BNF for Children

  • In some circumstances it may be helpful to check the BNF for Children to see if the medicine can itself be used in neonates or infants as this provides reassurance of use in the paediatric population

Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative

  • Contains an interesting evidence section and advice on breastfeeding support in general

LactMed

  • This resource is part of the US National Library of Medicine website
  • It is considered a reputable and up to date resource although not all medicines are included
  • Provides information on whether the medicine affects the lactation process itself

e-lactancia

  • A Spanish website with an English version provided
  • Wide coverage of products with succinct entries including a lactation risk category. Some monographs have short additional notes
  • Suitable alternatives are given where available

Medications and Mothers’ Milk (Hale)

  • This is a US reference source and requires a subscription
  • It is considered a reputable and up to date resource
  • It is particularly useful for breastfeeding related pharmacokinetics

Briggs’ Drugs in Pregnancy & Lactation

  • This is a US reference source and requires a subscription; free access is now available for primary care pharmacy professionals
  • The pregnancy information dominates each monograph and therefore the level of detail is not usually sufficient or helpful for Briggs to be used as a resource for drugs in breastfeeding