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Taking medications, including laxatives, can be a concern for a woman who is breastfeeding. Some of the medication a woman takes may make its way into her breast milk and affect her nursing infant. If you feel that you need laxatives while breastfeeding, you may do well to consult a doctor for advice. In general, however, stool softener laxatives and those that are mostly fiber are often recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Stimulant laxatives may be more of a concern.
Since medication you consume may make it into your breast milk, you may consider using natural laxatives the optimal choice while you are breastfeeding. For example, there are laxatives that are really just fiber in powdered or pill form. If you take one of these laxatives while breastfeeding, it is unlikely to harm your baby. The problem with this type of laxative, however, may be that it may not work as quickly as a stimulant laxative, and its slower action may leave you feeling uncomfortable if you have a serious case of constipation. Likewise, it may not be as effective for helping you to move hard, compacted bowel movements.
Stool softeners, which work to soften hard, difficult-to-pass stools, may be recommended for use while you are breastfeeding. It is generally considered safer to use stool-softening laxatives while breastfeeding than stimulant laxatives. In fact, doctors often prescribe stool softeners for use by both pregnant and nursing mothers. They may contain a range of ingredients, however, so you may do well to check that all of the ingredients in the stool softener you choose are safe for use while breastfeeding. If you’ve been given a prescription for a stool softener, you may also protect your baby's health by making sure your doctor knows you are breastfeeding before you take it.
Stimulant laxatives often contain harsh medications that are intended to not only help soften the stools, but also stimulate the muscle contractions that help to push stools out of the body. While these laxatives are usually effective, they may contain ingredients that are not safe for your nursing baby. They may also cause you to lose a good deal of water in the form of loose bowel movements. In some cases, this could lead to dehydration, especially when this happens while you are breastfeeding. In general, you may do well to avoid stimulant laxatives while breastfeeding, unless your doctor has recommended them.