International Breastfeeding Journal

, 7:14

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Avoiding risk at what cost? Putting use of medicines for breastfeeding women into perspective

  • Lisa H AmirAffiliated withMother & Child Health Research, La Trobe University Email author 
  • , Kath M RyanAffiliated withSchool of Nursing and Midwifery, La Trobe University
  • , Susan E JordanAffiliated withDepartment of Nursing, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University


Breastfeeding women often need to take medicines, and therefore health professionals need to consider the effects of medication on lactation and the breastfed infant, and any associated risks. This commentary discusses the tragic case of a young woman with a history of mental illness who committed suicide in the postpartum period. She was determined to be a 'good mother' and breastfeed, and to avoid any potential adverse effects of medication on her breastfed infant. The final outcome was fatal for both mother and child. We argue that if women require medication during lactation, all risks need to be considered – the risk of not treating the maternal medical condition may greatly outweigh the potential risk to the breastfed infant.


Breastfeeding Lactation Medication Side-effect Risk Maternal health Postpartum