Can You Safely Take Antibiotics While Pregnant or Breastfeeding, Or Should You Wait?

Which ones to definitely avoid and which are safe.

antibiotics pregnant breastfeeding

There are many reasons your doctor may want to prescribe antibiotics while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

The most common reasons are for urinary tract infections, yeast infections, or respiratory infections.

But are you wondering if they’re even safe or not? Here’s what we found out while researching it for you.

Remember: we aren’t doctors! Always take the advice of a medical professional before taking antibiotics or any other medication while pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you are pregnant:

Many antibiotics are safe to take, but some are unsafe, and some fall somewhere in between.

According to BabyCenter and MayoClinic, the common, safe antibiotics you can take while pregnant are:

  • penicillins (such as amoxicillin and ampicillin)
  • erythromycin
  • clindamycin
  • nitrofurantoin

If you have frequent UTIs or if a UTI has moved to your kidneys, your doctor may prescribe nitrofurantoin (trade name Macrodantin or Macrobid) for the duration of your pregnancy. If that is the case, you should stop taking it when you are 36 weeks or as soon as you start preterm labor, as it could destroy some of the baby’s red blood cells if taken too close to delivery, according to

If that is the case, you should stop taking it when you are 36 weeks or as soon as you start preterm labor, as it could destroy some of the baby’s red blood cells if taken too close to delivery, according to babycenter.com.

Avoid the following:

Antibiotics in the tetracycline class are considered unsafe, according to BabyCenter, especially when taken in the second or third trimester, as they can damage the mother’s kidneys and permanently stain the teeth of the developing fetus. However, it is safe to take after the baby is born because the teeth buds have already been formed. Avoid the following:

  • Streptomycin, which treats tuberculosis, should be avoided, as it could cause hearing loss in your baby.
  • Oxytetracycline and minocycline, which causes damage to the mother’s liver.
  • Doxycycline, which is used to treat acne and respiratory infections.
  • Trimethoprim is also not a good idea to take while pregnant, as it blocks the effects of folic acid, which is crucial before and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects. If you have no choice but to take this antibiotic, be sure to take a daily prenatal vitamin with folic acid to make sure you’re still getting enough.

Sometimes a doctor will prescribe trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole together to treat a UTI, but these have been thought to increase the risk of birth defects, although there is no direct proof, according to Mayoclinic

Some health experts used to think that metronidazole was linked to birth defects, but new research doesn’t support that theory, and it is now considered safe in most cases.

Risk factors.

There are too many other antibiotics to list here, but it is important to discuss with your doctor the benefits of taking the antibiotic versus the risks of not taking it. Oftentimes antibiotics can be lifesaving, so while they may pose potential risks to your baby or pregnancy, it is important that you do what is best for your overall health. Sometimes not taking the antibiotic could put your baby more at risk if you’re very sick.

The risk factor also depends on how large of a dose you need, how long you need to take it, and how far along you are in your pregnancy. These should all be discussed with your doctor, of course.

If you are allergic to penicillin, it could affect your pregnancy and developing fetus. So be sure to tell your doctor about any allergies you might have at all, such as food, animal, etc., as they could indicate an increased risk of an allergy to the drug.

If you are breastfeeding.

Yes, it’s safe to take antibiotics while breastfeeding. In most cases, if you can give the antibiotic to a newborn, it is considered safe to take while breastfeeding, although quindones should be avoided, as it can cause damage to tendons in adults.

One of the most common reasons a new mother would need antibiotics could be for mastitis. Australian website bellybelly.com lists five things you should know:

  1. Your baby’s poo may change as a result of taking the antibiotic. It could appear runny and/or green in color. This is nothing to be concerned about–it will go back to normal when you are done with the antibiotics.
  2. Your baby’s temperament may also change while you’re on antibiotics. They could seem unsettled and have colic-like symptoms. This, too, should not be concerning, as they will go back to normal after your antibiotic treatment.
  3. Breast milk is very important for your baby’s gut flora. Breast milk contains prebiotics, which is food for the good bacteria in your baby’s gut, and it has probiotics. Baby’s gut flora would be less affected by the tiny traces of antibiotics than it would be if you switched to formula, as formula radically changes baby’s gut flora.
  4. Antibiotics can cause diarrhea, so ask your doctor about taking a probiotic to replenish your own healthy gut flora.
  5. Taking antibiotics can put you at risk for thrush, unfortunately, which is an overgrowth of candida, which kills beneficial gut flora. Thrush can be uncomfortable and is highly contagious between you and baby. However, that does not mean you would need to stop breastfeeding or pump and dump! Talk to your doctor about treatment and how to handle thrush if you have symptoms on your mouth, vagina, or nipples.

We all get sick sometimes and antibiotics are necessary from time to time. While pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s always best to avoid any drugs, if possible, but if it is best for you and baby, follow your doctor’s advice and get well soon!

Remember: we aren’t doctors! Always take the advice of a medical professional before taking antibiotics or any other medication while pregnant or breastfeeding.

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