Nourishing your newborn

Breastfeeding with IBD

Healthy for baby & mom

Breastfeeding is a natural and beneficial option for both mother and child. In addition to providing the infant with a perfect and digestible mix of fat, protein and vitamins, it also provides a unique benefit to children at risk of developing IBD.

Nursing or "lactating" also provides IBD benefits to you as a mom as well. It can help protect your body against IBD relapse. Breastfeeding also hasn't been associated with an increased risk of disease flares, as some mothers might fear.

The World Health Organization and most doctors recommend exclusively breastfeeding your child for the first six months of his or her life. But as always, talk to your doctor about what is right for you and your newborn.

Misconceptions around IBD & breastfeeding

IBD lactation is shrouded with misconceptions. Many women fear that their IBD medications will harm their nursing child since the drug can be passed from the mother to the infant through her milk. This fear was so strong that a European study reported that at one time, 60% of women stopped their medications in the postpartum period because of this. However, most IBD medications excreted in breast milk are in very low concentrations that doctors consider safe for a newborn.

While you should always talk to your doctor before changing your medication strategy, we've created a table of the most common IBD medications and the standard healthcare recommendation for nursing mothers.

Medications during breastfeeding: safety concerns and recommendations
Medication Recommendations
Mesalamine (5-ASA) Safe for Baby
Ciprofloxacin Safe for Baby
Metronidazole NOT Safe for Baby
Prednisone Safe for Baby
Budesonide Safe for Baby
6-MP/Azathioprine Safe for Baby
Methotrexate NOT Safe for Baby
Cyclosporine Safe with Monitoring of Infant Levels
Tacrolimus Safe with Monitoring of Infant Levels
Infliximab Safe for Baby
Adalimumab Safe for Baby
Certolizumab Pegol Safe for Baby
Golimumab Safe for Baby
Vedolizumab Safe for Baby
Ustekinumab Safe for Baby
Tofacitinib NOT Safe for Baby

In conclusion, we suggest that the use of 5–ASA, systemic corticosteroids, thiopurines or biologic therapies should not influence the decision to breastfeed. Alternately, breastfeeding should not influence the decision to use these medications. For more details on medications and breastfeeding please download the LactMed App.

Breast may be best

If your doctor says it's safe for you to breastfeed your baby, we recommended that you do. In addition to providing health benefits for both your little one and yourself, it gives you and your baby an intimate way to bond with each other that can help bring the two of you even closer.