Taking Tylenol while breastfeeding

By Me & Qi
Jul 20, 2021

What is Tylenol and what does it help with?

Tylenol is just a brand, the actual medicine's name is acetaminophen.

Acetaminophens can be sold over-the-counter (OTC). They're both analgesics (used to relieve pain) and antipyretics (help reduce fever). As such Tylenol is both a painkiller and an anti-fever drug.

Can I take Tylenol while breastfeeding?

Tylenol is comparatively safe with regards to breastfeeding, both for the mother and the baby. It is listed by the "American Family Physician" (AAFP) as a "recommended agent" for pain relief while breastfeeding. It is also supported by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

That being said, it might not be right for your specific situation. Check this overview of the most common causes of pain while breastfeeding and the recommended remedies.

As a safety precaution, it is always recommended to take painkillers right after nursing or pumping. Like this the minimum possible amount of medication makes it into your breastmilk.

It is also advised to take small doses to remain on the safe side. Regular strength Tylenol contains 325mg of Acetaminophen in each dose and it is recommended not to exceed 10 doses a day (for instance 2 doses, 5 times a day).

Side effects are rare but they happen. If you or your baby experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, bellyache or other side-effects, stop taking the medicine and contact your doctor immediately.

Other breastfeeding-compatible pain medication include Advil or Motrin (which are both based on Ibuprofen).

Can I take Tylenol Extra Strength while breastfeeding?

Tylenol dosage while breastfeeding

Regular strength Tylenol contains 325mg of Acetaminophen while the extra strength version contains 500mg, or roughly 50% more.

This means that while it is recommended to limit your consumption of Tylenol to 10 a day, it's a good idea to limit your consumption of Tylenol extra strength to 6 doses a day (for example 2 doses, 3 times a day).

Also, as with normal Tylenol, it is always recommended to take painkillers right after nursing or pumping. Like this the minimum possible amount of medication makes it into your breastmilk.

Lastly, it's of course never ideal to take any chemical medication while breastfeeding. If you can, consider natural alternatives. In this overview we give a few pointers for the most common breastfeeding issues.

Can I take Tylenol PM while breastfeeding?

Tylenol PM is a combination of acetaminophen (500mg) and diphenhydramine (25mg).

As we've seen above, acetaminophen is both a painkiller and an anti-fever drug.

Diphenhydramine's role is to treat occasional insomnia associated with minor aches and pains. Diphenhydramine is not a sleeping pill as it only helps with insomnia when something like pain is keeping you awake. 

While acetaminophen alone is generally recognized as safe for nursing mothers (see above), the addition of diphenhydramine in Tylenol PM makes it more risky since it may cause effects in the baby and mothers' lactation.

For instance it might make your baby drowsy, irritable and suffering from sleep disturbances.

As such, if you want to take Tylenol, it's advisable to favor the version that only contains acetaminophen without diphenhydramine.

If you're really set on taking Tylenol PM, taking a single bedtime dose after the last feeding of the day would limit the risks. Be especially careful if your baby is premature, born underweight or suffers from any medical condition.

Does Tylenol pass through breast milk?

Any medicine ingested ends up in the mother's blood stream and gets transferred to the baby through breastmilk.

However no evidence suggests that acetaminophen, the actual medicine in Tylenol, can harm infants, especially at small doses. There are no known contraindications for taking acetaminophen while breastfeeding.

That being said, depending on your issue, it's always a good idea to try natural home remedies first before going for pain relievers directly. Especially since, as the name indicates, they relieve pain but do nothing to cure the underlying issue that's causing the pain in the first place.

If the issue that causes your pain is breastfeeding-related, see this summary of home remedies for the most common breastfeeding issues.

Does Tylenol help with breast or nipple pain caused by breastfeeding?

If your pain is related to breastfeeding itself, it can be due to a range of conditions: engorgement, clogged milk ducts, milk blebs or blisters, nipple fissures, nipple thrushes, mastitis, breast abscesses, nipple vasospasms, etc.

Any of the above conditions, and more, can cause burning, shooting or sharp pain. This detailed article lists the causes behind these issues with effective home remedies for each.

Tylenol will be able to relieve pain to a certain extent but will not help with what's causing the pain. As such it is always a good idea to address the underlying issue rather than focus on the symptom of pain.

Can I take Tylenol to treat a cold, the flu or fever while breastfeeding?

Before directly resorting to taking medicine, it's always a good idea to check first if natural remedies help.

In this case try taking a hot shower or bath, a big cup of warm milk before sleeping and applying a cold pad on the forehead. In order to help your body fight, you can also consider drinking honey-lemon water or even Milk Boost Tea since it does a great job boosting nursing mum's energy levels.

Tylenol can also help reduce some symptoms such as aches or fever so you can take it in limited doses. It won't help treat the underlying problem though, it just temporarily relieves some symptoms.

By the way if you experience flu-like symptoms as well as breastfeeding pain and discomfort, you might have a breast infection like mastitis. Check this article to learn more about mastitis.

Can I take Tylenol to relieve headache while breastfeeding?

Headaches can be a symptom of many conditions. First, it is worth checking if your headache might be cause by a breastfeeding issue, such as mastitis. See here a summary of the main breastfeeding conditions a nursing mum is likely to encounter.

Breastfeeding mothers often experience headaches due to emotional stress such as anger, frustration, sadness, fatigue, etc.

If you think that might be your case, the best way to solve your headache issues is to work on what's causing it. For instance like many nursing mums you might not be sleeping enough. Or not getting enough assistance taking care of the baby. So consider reaching out to your close ones for assistance.

If emotional stress is what's causing your headache, you might also consider Milk Boost Tea. It's designed to help nursing mums recover from birth-giving by restoring their energy reserves. The more energy you have, the best you can cope with emotional stress.

Milk Boost Tea to boost milk supply

Milk Boost Tea helps restore your energy levels postpartum

Lastly of course Tylenol can also help reduce the severity of a headache. It won't help treat the underlying problem though, it's just temporary relief.

Can I take tylenol to ease vaginal pain after delivery?

Yes. Tylenol is often suggested to mothers who suffered during the act of birth giving. The pain is often quite strong during the first 3 days postpartum and goes away progressively as the wounds heal.

Tylenol is comparatively safe. However, if you breastfeed and your baby is premature, underweight or suffers from a medical condition, please do talk to your doctors before taking the medicine.

Can Tylenol decrease milk supply?

Many mums report that taking pain-relief medicine like Tylenol or Ibuprofen impacts their milk supply.

If you plan on taking Tylenol, read what you can do to maintain or increase your milk supply.

Article tags: Breastfeeding and maternity