Woman researching OTC pain relievers.

Whether it’s discomfort from a blocked milk duct or a headache from lack of sleep, at some point in your breastfeeding days, you’re going to need to take something for your pain. The good news is that while generally only acetaminophen is recommended for pain relief during pregnancy, several other pain relievers are approved for use while you are breastfeeding.


Common Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Elixsure Fever/Pain)

Acetaminophen is a mild pain reliever that is often recommended for headaches, fever reduction and light muscle pain. Because it is processed by the liver, you should never take it if you have liver disease. If you experience stomach pain, nausea or break out into a rash while taking acetaminophen, stop using it and call your doctor immediately.

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is often recommended for tooth and muscle pain. Ibuprofen is processed in your body by the kidneys, so it should never be taken if you have kidney disease. Common side effects of ibuprofen include abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea.

Naproxen (Naprosyn)

Naproxen is another type of NSAID that works by reducing the hormones that cause inflammation in the body. It is often recommended for arthritis, joint pain and muscle pain. Taken long-term, naproxen can increase your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or stomach ulcers.


Aspirin is an analgesic that works by blocking an enzyme to the nerves that causes pain. It is often used for headaches and fever reduction but has not proven effective in reducing muscle pain. Because it is a blood thinner, it can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, stomach pain and can worsen asthma symptoms.


Safe Pain Relievers to Use During Breastfeeding

If you are experiencing pain, the following are considered safe to use during breastfeeding:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen (short-term use only)

Doctors do not recommend taking aspirin while nursing. After aspirin is ingested, salicylic acid is excreted into the breast milk, which can cause metabolic acidosis or Reye’s syndrome to develop in your baby.


Talk With Your Doctor

Though there are several approved pain relievers for use during breastfeeding, a small amount of most medications will enter your milk. Taking a pain reliever as soon as you are done breastfeeding can give your body some time to process it, minimizing its effects on your breast milk.

If you are unsure if a pain reliever is right for you or are wondering about the correct dosage, contact your doctor. He or she will be able to help you determine the root cause of your pain and the best pain reliever for you.


Don’t let the stress and frustration from pain overwhelm you. By using an approved over-the-counter pain reliever, you can get rid of those aches and pains that you are experiencing. If you are experiencing pain from an improper latch during breastfeeding, consider obtaining a pump to keep up your milk supply while your nipples heal. Most insurance providers will cover a breast pump at no cost to you. With a simple form, Ameda Direct will handle all of your insurance paperwork and you will receive an award-winning Ameda double-electric breast pump, free through your insurance.