Herbal medicines are generally not recommended when you are breastfeeding as there is a lack of information on whether they pass into breast milk and how safe they are if they do.
Some complementary and alternative medicines have very good information about their safety and effectiveness while breastfeeding, but others have not had enough research done on them to know how safe and effective they are when you're breastfeeding.
What are herbal medicines?
Herbal medicines are produced from plants and are based on traditional knowledge. They are examples of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). CAM also include therapies such as acupuncture, dietary supplements, massage, aromatherapy, homeopathy and relaxation therapy. Read more about complementary and alternative medicines (CAM).
Herbal and traditional medicines are generally bought from pharmacies, supermarkets and health food stores, or may be recommended by a naturopath, a Chinese doctor or another kind of healthcare provider. While most complementary medicines are used for to relieve the symptoms of minor ailments, many are used for maintaining health and wellbeing.
What are the concerns about taking herbal medicines while breastfeeding?
Like conventional medicines, certain herbal and traditional medicines can transfer into your breast milk. Some herbal and traditional medicines may be harmful to your baby, while others can affect your breast milk production.
You should be very careful about what herbal and traditional medicines you use while breastfeeding, especially when your baby is a newborn or if your baby was born prematurely. If you or your healthcare provider are not sure that a product is safe to take while breastfeeding, do not take that product.
- All herbal and traditional medicines have the potential to pass into breast milk and affect your baby.
- For many herbal and traditional medicines, there is not enough information to to be sure of their safety during breastfeeding.
- Some herbal and traditional medicines have not been scientifically proven to be effective.
- Some herbal and traditional medicine products have not been regulated to ensure they are of good quality.
Common herbal and traditional medicines
The following are examples of common herbal and traditional medicines that have been used during breastfeeding.
|St John’s Wort||
- Herbal medicines & breastfeeding The Royal Women's Hospital, Australia