Medication and Breastfeeding in China

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In one of my the previous articles I touched on the subject of medication and breastfeeding in China. I always stress that moms need to advocate for themselves and their babies. This applies to public, private and international hospitals in China (and all over the world, for that matter).

Remember: Most of the medication IS compatible with breastfeeding and only a tiny fraction gets through to mother’s milk.

When you are prescribed medication you need to ask these questions before you obediently proceed to buy them:

  1. Is this medicine compatible with breastfeeding?
  2. Will this medicine have any adverse reaction in my baby?

And then, be prepared that the doctor might tell you that you need to either pump-and-dump (don’t ever do it!) or stop breastfeeding for a couple of days (he might as well ask you to wean your baby).

What can you do when the medication is not compatible or you are not sure if it is safe?

  1. Insist on another medication. In cities, hospitals are equipped with computers where they have a database of all available medications and they can check what else they can prescribe you. Also, they can call the pharmacy and ask for an alternative.
  2. We live in the age of internet and smart phones. Download LactMed (iPhone | Android) app on your phone or use e-lactancia website to check compatibility of the medicine right on the spot.
  3. It is possible you will have to make a trip to the pharmacy first and ask to show you the medicine’s name in order to understand what it is that is prescribed to you.
  4. If you don’t require anti-bacterial or special treatment, you can opt for Chinese medicine. In my experience it works pretty well!

Remember to let your doctor know:

  • Your child’s age – infants are more susceptible to getting a reaction from medication. The older the child, the less is the risk of the reaction.
  • How much milk your child gets – the amount of milk also determines the amount of medication that can get to a child.
  • Any allergies to any medication or food that you or your child have.

Below are sources where you can check the compatibility of medication you are prescribed, from as simple as a cold medicine to more serious ones:

  • LactMed website – a database of medicine and its level of compatibility with breastfeeding
  • E-lactancia website – a database of medicine and its level of compatibility with breastfeeding
  • Kellymom – a website dedicated to pregnancy and parenting and is known to the a guide for breastfeeding moms.

Wishing you and your family health!

Varya Sanina

Varya Sanina

Varya is a contributor to She is originally from Russia and has been living in China for over a decade. She is a Mom of 3 , an educator (Montessori, Positive Discipline), postpartum doula, baby massage and perinatal fitness trainer, breastfeeding and lactation specialist. She blogs at about multiculturalism and life in China.


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