Is it safe for you to take Midol while breastfeeding? - Evidence Based Babies
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can you take midol while breastfeeding

Is it safe for you to take Midol while breastfeeding?

As a breastfeeding mom, it may be a long time before your period and all those uncomfortable periods symptoms return. Seeing as breastfeeding can and does delay ovulation for quite some time. Some mothers’ periods may return at 2 months postpartum; others may still wait for their periods to return at 2 years postpartum. But it will return eventually, and when it does return, you may struggle with severe pain, bloating and fatigue. You may be wondering if you can take Midol while breastfeeding.

When this happens and you feel the need for pain relief, remember that before reaching for just any over the counter medicines, it will always be a good idea to reach out for medical advice first. Seeing as some medications may pass into the breastmilk and can have serious side effects on your milk supply and on your baby’s health. There are many breastfeeding safe medications, but some of it may not be safe or may come with potential risks that’s just not worth taking.

What is Midol?

Midol, known under various trade names, most commonly known as Midol complete, is one of many over-the-counter medications used to relieve menstruation/period symptoms such as cramps, muscle aches, and bloating. Its active ingredients, including Pyrilamine Maleate, provide pain relief and are intended for short-term use during periods of discomfort.

The active ingredients of Midol and how it affects breastfeeding

Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen, also known as Paracetamol, acts as a pain reliever and a fever reducer medication.

Acetaminophen is one of the preferred medications for breastfeeding mothers as studies have shown that the amount of acetaminophen an infant could ingest via breast milk is most likely significantly less than the pediatric therapeutic dose.

Acetaminophen does not affect the milk supply and has not been shown to affect breastfeeding infants in any way.

Acetaminophen, taken in large doses, may lead to liver damage.

There is growing evidence that acetaminophen use may be linked to an increased prevalence of asthma among children and adults.

Caffeine

The caffeine serves as a diuretic to help alleviate bloating and water retention/weight.

Caffeine does transfer into breastmilk, and although the amounts may be very small, it has a very long half-life for babies, and can lead to heightened irritabilities and sleeping difficulties in infants.

While the half-life in adults is 4.9 hours, the half-life in neonates is as high as 97.5 hours. The half-life decreases with age to 14 hours at 3-5 months and 2.6 hours at 6 months and older.

Caffeine is considered compatible with breastfeeding and most babies won’t have any issues with the very small amount of caffeine in the breastmilk. It’s recommended that breastfeeding mothers keep their caffeine intake to a limit of around 300mg per day.

There is some evidence that chronic coffee drinking may reduce the iron content of milk. Irritability and insomnia may occur and have been reported.

Pyrilamine Maleate

Pyrilamine Maleate is a mild antihistamine that is commonly used in cold medications, but it can also help with water retention and discomfort.

Antihistamines in this class may cause excitement or sleeplessness in children. Pyrilamine also has anticholinergic (drying) effects as well.

Use of these older antihistamines in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should be avoided. It is recommended to rather use the newer nonsedating antihistamines, such as Loratadine or Cetirizine. Lower oral doses of antihistamines or occasional doses of Pyrilamine may be fine for short-term use when necessary.

Can breastfeeding mothers take Midol?

Midol, widely used to help with symptoms such as menstrual cramps and muscle aches, raises concerns for breastfeeding mothers due to its active ingredients, which can pass into breast milk in small amounts.

Caffeine although considered compatible with breastfeeding, may affect some infants negatively.

Pyrilamine Maleate, which is an antihistamine is not recommended for breastfeeding mothers.

Midol can be safe to use in low or small doses for short periods of time. It can have an effect on babies, and they should be monitored closely. Alternative medications such Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen are preferred for breastfeeding mothers when possible.

Alternatives to Midol

For breastfeeding mothers seeking relief from pain and discomfort without relying on Midol or similar medications, several safer alternatives exist.

Natural alternatives

Exercise

One study has shown that exercise can effectively treat primary dysmenorrhea by reducing the intensity and duration of pain associated with menstruation. More research is needed to understand the effect of exercise on an irregular cycle.

Massage

One study has shown that the use of aromatherapy massage showed a reduction of pain and its duration during the first three days of menstruation.

Heat

A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis found that heat therapy was associated with a decrease in period pain with the added bonus of no side effects.

Ginger

A small study of 92 women with heavy menstrual bleeding showed that daily ginger supplements may help reduce the amount of blood lost during menstruation.

Research has also shown that using ginger for 7 days before a period, relieved mood, physical, and behavioral symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

It was found that the use of 200 mg of ginger every six hours is effective in relieving pain in those with primary dysmenorrhea.

Cinnamon

Some research has found that cinnamon helped regulate menstrual cycles and could even be an effective treatment option for women with PCOS.

Cinnamon has also been shown to significantly reduce menstrual pain, bleeding and relieve nausea and vomiting associated with primary dysmenorrhea.

Medicinal alternatives

Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen, also known as Paracetamol, is one of the pain medications recommended for breastfeeding mothers. Due to the low amount in the breastmilk.

Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug is one of the recommended pain medications for breastfeeding mothers due to the low amount in the breastmilk.

Midol Long-Lasting Relief

Midol Long-Lasting Relief is a good alternative to Midol Complete as it only contains Acetaminophen/Paracetamol as the active ingredient.

Important notes

Mothers of immune compromised or premature babies should always consult with a lactation consultant and healthcare professional first, as their babies are even more sensitive to some medications.

Midol should be fine when necessary, and for short periods, but your baby should be monitored closely while you’re using Midol. Alternatives should be considered when possible.

In case of an overdose, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Taking Midol in large doses can leave your body in serious condition and may even cause severe liver damage.

Whatever you do, never use Aspirin as a pain relief medication as this can cause adverse effects in infants, including Reye’s syndrome which can cause swelling in the brain and liver damage in babies.

If you ever need any advice or support with anything related to breastfeeding, contact an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

If you’re wanting to use Midol for pain relief while breastfeeding, you should first consult with your health care provider. They can help assess if a safer alternative is available or they can help with the correct dosage and the lowest effective dose of Midol. They can also help monitor your baby for any side effects or allergic reactions.

Always consult your healthcare provider for medical help or information regarding any medications, whether it’s for over-the-counter medications or for prescription medication, let them know that you’re a breastfeeding mother. They’ll have the best advice regarding medications that are safe for the milk production and for breastfed infants.

Additional information and resources:

Drugs and lactation database

Caffeine use in breastfeeding mothers

Cough & Cold Medications while Breastfeeding

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