Can I Take Midol While Breastfeeding?
Menstrual pains can be some of the most intense and frustrating discomfort menstruating individuals experience on a regular basis. Whether your period comes every month or less frequently, the aches and pains can be dreadful regardless. And while you won't menstruate while pregnant, your period will eventually return postpartum.
While you might be tempted to turn to the same pain relief that you used before pregnancy, there are more things to consider now than before, especially if you're breastfeeding. Because it's possible to transfer your medications to your breastmilk, it's important to be careful with what you're putting into your body.
Midol, a popular pain reliever that people take to alleviate period discomfort from cramps and bloating, might be top of mind when those aches return post-baby. While experts say it's safe for breastfeeding individuals to take at the recommended dosage, they have a few precautions they want you to keep in mind.
What Is Midol?
Midol is an over-the-counter drug designed to relieve discomfort while on your period. It’s most commonly used to target cramps and bloating during a menstrual cycle, but the different Midol products can help with different pains.
You can use Midol Complete and Midol Complete Caffeine Free for all-encompassing period pain and discomfort, as it can help with cramps, bloating, headaches, and backaches. Midol Bloat Relief specifically helps with bloating and water weight gain. Midol Long-Lasting Relief can alleviate muscle aches for longer than regular Midol—up to eight hours.
Midol Complete contains three active ingredients: acetaminophen, caffeine, and Pyrilamine maleate.1 The acetaminophen serves as the pain relief, the caffeine works as a diuretic to target bloating, and the Pyrilamine maleate is an antihistamine. Pyrilamine maleate is commonly used in cold medications to cause drowsiness,2 however, Midol says it uses the ingredient to target bloating.3
Is It Safe to Take Midol While Breastfeeding?
Though breastfeeding individuals may not necessarily get their periods right away after giving birth, they may still experience period-like symptoms such as cramping and bloating. If this happens, Sherry Ross, MD, OBGYN, a women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, says it's OK for you to take Midol if you choose. However, she recommends always checking with your healthcare provider before taking any medication, even over-the-counter products.
"Women can take safely take Midol while breastfeeding to treat cramps, bloating, fatigue, headaches, and backaches," Dr. Ross says. "Midol is made up of acetaminophen, caffeine, and pyrilamine to help treat many disruptive symptoms while breastfeeding."
Yana Paulson, PharmD, chief pharmacy officer at L.A. Care Health Plan, points out why lactating parents have a difference in menstruation after giving birth. "It is normal for women who are breastfeeding after childbirth to experience changes and likely delays related to their periods (sometimes upwards of several months to a year)," she says. "This is as a result of their body producing higher levels of the hormone prolactin, which usually means they won’t ovulate or release eggs."
When looking specifically at the active ingredients, though, Dr. Paulson notes that acetaminophen is the only one she feels confident recommending for breastfeeding parents, as it is not as likely to transfer to the breast milk in any notable amount.
"Acetaminophen as a product is the only listed ingredient [in Midol products] that is likely safe for breastfeeding mothers, and so a product like Midol Long-Lasting Relief [which doesn't contain active ingredients that Midol Complete does] might serve a purpose for this demographic," she says. She notes, though, that overall she believes Midol to be safe for breastfeeding people as long as they speak with their healthcare providers first.
As with any drug, there's a risk of side effects, most commonly an allergic reaction. This can manifest as hives or a rash, but you could also experience swelling. If you experience any kind of reaction after consuming Midol, you should stop taking it immediately and contact your healthcare provider.
Other common but lesser side effects could be drowsiness, constipation, or stomach irritation. These side effects are possible whether or not you're breastfeeding, but because of the changes your body has gone through in childbirth, you could experience reactions you didn't previously.
Every breastfeeding journey is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about taking Midol while breastfeeding.
Both Dr. Ross and Dr. Paulson recommend following the dosage directions on the Midol bottle, provided your own healthcare provider has said it's OK to take. Just don't take more than six pills in a 24-hour period.
Aside from the noted side effects, Dr. Paulson cites the transfer of the active ingredients to breast milk as her primary concern with Midol. According to the LactMed database, caffeine does transfer to breast milk at a rapid rate, but there isn't enough data surrounding this to outright say caffeine is bad for breastfeeding parents.4
The antihistamine Pyrilamine doesn't necessarily transfer to breast milk in large amounts, according to LactMed, but it can affect milk supply: "Larger doses or more prolonged use may cause effects in the infant or decrease the milk supply," the database states.5 Midol Complete contains 15 mg of Pyrilamine, and if too much is taken for a prolonged period, it could reduce milk supply slightly.1 These cautions are why Dr. Paulson recommends Midol Long-Lasting Relief over the other products, as it only contains acetaminophen as the active ingredient.
For breastfeeding women who want to err on the side of caution, Dr. Ross suggests more natural cramp relief remedies like drinking plenty of water, light exercise, and eating fiber and calcium. "Calcium-rich foods and supplements reduce muscles from cramping," she says. "Ideally 1,000mg/day of calcium works best. Dairy products, sunflower seeds, spinach, soybeans, kale, figs, almonds, sesame seeds, and tofu are excellent sources of calcium."
A Word From Verywell
Though experts agree that Midol is safe for breastfeeding parents to take while experiencing period pains, asking your own healthcare provider before taking it if is a good idea for you. Your provider can make the best recommendation for you based on your breastfeeding journey and symptoms.