Pharmacy professionals can help ensure breastfeeding can continue whilst medicines are used. We guide on how to undertake this role.

Benefits of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding provides nutrition tailored to the infant’s needs. It also provides additional nutrients and immunoglobulins, and has other health benefits for the infant and for the mother. Current guidance recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and all women should be encouraged to breastfeed.

Role of pharmacy

Registered pharmacy professionals are ideally placed to undertake a risk assessment and give informed advice if a breastfeeding mother is prescribed, or wants to take a medicine. Stopping breastfeeding when a medicine is prescribed is not a “no-risk” option for either the mother or the infant as they would lose all the benefits of breastfeeding. Equally, a mother should not be denied a medicine she needs due to a perceived unmanageable risk.

The following quote from a health visitor demonstrates the importance to patients of individualised advice:

“A mother was devastated after being told she couldn’t breastfeed due to the medicines she was taking. This was an IVF pregnancy and she may not have the chance to have another baby. After getting some advice from the pharmacist, she is now breastfeeding a large term baby and she is ecstatic! I wish you could have seen her beaming smile.”

Further information

Listen to a conversation or watch a webinar with an expert pharmacist discussing why this is an important topic and the role registered pharmacy professionals can play in advising patients and colleagues.

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