Are you hesitant about taking antidepressants when breastfeeding? Learning more about the possible effects can help you make the decision.

If you’re planning to manage your depression symptoms with medication, you may wonder about the impact antidepressants could have on your breastmilk and baby.

There’s no size-fits-all answer to this question. Still, in many cases, breastfeeding when taking antidepressants is safe for both you and the little one.

Overall, it’s safe to take antidepressants if you’re nursing when you’re following your health team’s guidelines and recommendations. Managing your depression symptoms outweighs any possible challenges.

Because everyone’s circumstances are different, when deciding whether you should take (or continue) antidepressants while pregnant or breastfeeding, your health professional can help you consider the pros and cons.

Some studies suggest that untreated depression in mothers can have severe long-term effects on both you and the newborn. If you’re living with depression or develop postpartum depression, treatment may be essential to your health and the baby.

Do antidepressants cross into breast milk?

Many medications, including antidepressants, can pass into your breast milk. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most antidepressants have “little or no effect on milk supply or infant well-being.”

If you’ve already been successfully taking medication, your health professional may recommend that you continue using the same antidepressant.

If you’re taking a drug that might increase the chance your baby experiences adverse effects, a health professional may switch you to another type of medication.

If this is your first time taking medication for depression or you need to change the one you’re taking, a doctor may recommend specific drugs.

Research from 2010 suggests antidepressants such as sertraline, paroxetine, nortriptyline, and imipramine are safe to use while breastfeeding.

Though they may make it into breast milk, they’re typically undetectable in infant blood and have had no reports of short-term adverse events.

Zoloft, the brand name for sertraline, has been widely studied and has consistently been undetectable in breastfeeding infants.

Whether it’s continuing your prescription, adjusting your medication, or starting a new prescription, talking with your health professional is the best way of determining which (if any) antidepressant is best for you.

One 2011 study by the National Institute of Health found that fluoxetine, citalopram, and venlafaxine tend to show in high concentrations in breast milk.

They also found that sometimes, these medications are found in high concentrations in infants’ blood plasma and may lead to adverse effects.

When considering antidepressants while you’re nursing, you might want to discuss these specific medications with your health professional.

Consider the following questions when discussing your options with your health team:

  • Should I stay on the antidepressant I’m currently on or switch to a different one?
  • What are the possible side effects my newborn may experience if I stay on my current medication?
  • What are some of the possible side effects I can experience if I switch to a new antidepressant?
  • What are the possible side effects to my newborn if I switch medications?
  • Should I consider changing my current dosage?
  • What are the consequences of stopping my antidepressants while I breastfeed?
  • What signs of possible adverse effects should I be aware of in my baby?

If you’ve never lived with depression or taken an antidepressant, you have several options. And to help you make the best choice for you and your baby, consider asking the following:

  • What are all my antidepressant options and what is the difference?
  • Will antidepressants make my symptoms less intense? How soon and for how long?
  • What are the possible side effects I could experience?
  • What are the possible adverse effects for my baby?
  • Do I need to tell my pediatrician about my new medication?
  • What other treatment options should I consider to manage my depression?
  • What happens if this medication doesn’t work? Can I switch or stop taking it?

Whether you’re currently living with depression or developed postpartum depression and need pharmaceutical treatment, antidepressants can help you to effectively manage your symptoms. This is still the case if you’re breastfeeding a newborn.

There are different antidepressant options for nursing parents. You may want to talk with your health team about the pros and cons of taking these medications.

In many cases, when you follow your health professional’s guidelines, taking antidepressants while nursing is safe for you and your baby. For example, Zoloft has been studied and results suggest it is safe for both nursing parent and baby.

Untreated depression may mean more intense symptoms. This is why it’s a good idea to discuss all treatment options with a health professional. Depression can be managed and support is available.