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Breastfeeding mothers may have a number of reasons they are considering taking medication. They may have pain resulting from birth, postpartum depression, or of course be dealing with health conditions completely unrelated to their pregnancies or labors.

In all of these cases, women who have just given birth may find it difficult to treat these issues because their medications are considered unsafe for breastfeeding infants. It can also be really difficult to figure out which medications are safe, and which should be avoided. So, let's dive into the science behind it.

What medications are safe to take while breastfeeding?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) opened its 2013 statement on The Transfer of Drugs and Therapeutics into Human Milk with an explanation for why physicians might tell lactating women not to breastfeed while on certain medications.

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First, there may just not be any evidence—positive or negative—about the effects of a particular drug on human milk. It is often difficult to run ethical studies if there is any concern about the potential harm of a drug to an infant. Interestingly, the drug studies that physicians do base their breastfeeding recommendations on often come from animal studies, which only imperfectly apply to humans.

The AAP asserts that physicians should consider a host of factors when prescribing medications to lactating women, which include: “the need for the drug by the mother, the potential effects of the drug on milk production, the amount of the drug excreted into human milk, the extent of oral absorption by the breastfeeding infant, and potential adverse effects on the breastfeeding infant."

Given all of the factors to consider when prescribing a medication, it's no wonder there can be disagreement on whether any particular medication is safe, or why a woman's provider advises her to stop or continue breastfeeding.

When looking for drug information, new mothers might question whether a drug is safe or unsafe for breastfeeding—unfortunately answers are often not cut and dry. Given the vast array of medications available and each individual provider's experience, the “safe or unsafe" question might be answered differently by different people.

When making the choice to take a medication and pause or discontinue breastfeeding, nursing mothers might do well to think less in terms of absolutes and more in terms of concentration, in collaboration with their provider, of course.

Consider the concentration of a drug

The first way to think about medication and breastfeeding is in terms of dosage. Consider a drug many people don't even think of as a drug: Caffeine. Drink 0.1 grams (the amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee), and you'll find it easier to make it through your day after three middle-of-the-night wake-ups. Ingest 30 grams, as two students recently did when they were accidentally overdosed during a research study, and if you're lucky, you'll end up in intensive care.

In the case of nursing mothers, dosing is especially complicated. The prescribing physician has to consider not just the right dose for the mother, but also a safe dose for the child who may receive some of that drug through the mother's breast milk.

To make calculations about how much of any particular drug will be present in breast milk, the physician must consider how that drug travels to different parts of the body. In pharmacology, this is called distribution. Some medications are water-soluble, meaning that they dissolve in water, while other medications are fat-soluble.

The solubility of a drug determines how that drug will be distributed throughout the body. Alcohol, for example, is water-soluble. Furthermore, it dissolves quickly in water, which is why it moves so rapidly from the intestines to the bloodstream, and from the bloodstream throughout the body. Alcohol's solubility is part of the reason it is found only in trace amounts in breast milk and generally regarded as safe to drink while breastfeeding.

Is over the counter pain medication safe while breastfeeding?

Many classes of pain medications are also water-soluble. Women who have had C-sections are often given morphine, also a water-soluble drug, because it appears only in trace amounts in breast milk.

The commonly used acetaminophen and ibuprofen are generally considered safe.

Medications are said to be “lipophilic" when they have a tendency to concentrate in fat. Because breast milk contains a high proportion of fat, it will also contain a high proportion of a drug that dissolves in fat. Therefore, fat-soluble medications are often prescribed with caution.

Is anxiety medication safe while breastfeeding?

SSRIs, which are prescribed for anxiety and depression, are lipophilic and have relatively long half-lives, meaning that they both dissolve in fat and take longer to metabolize. Although the infant exposure to SSRIs through breast milk is still relatively low, there have not been long-term studies of this exposure, so women who need these drugs may be discouraged from breastfeeding.

The solubility of a medication is just one of a host of factors physicians need to consider when making a recommendation about breastfeeding while on that medication. New drugs are introduced all the time, and drugs that were previously thought to be safe for mothers to take while breastfeeding are sometimes found to be unsafe (codeine is one such example).

LactMed, a database maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, is regularly updated with new drug information and can be used to help evaluate whether a particular medication is safe for a nursing infant.

Concentration of the parent

The concentration of a particular drug is important because of the amounts that may appear in breast milk. If that amount is deemed too high, a woman might be counseled to stop breastfeeding, or at least to change the dosage of the drug. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, remarkably few medications absolutely require breastfeeding cessation.

But the concentration of a drug in the mother's milk is only one way to think about concentration. It's also important for prescribing physicians to consider “concentration" as a mental state. Narcotics like morphine can interfere with awareness, so even if they won't pass into the bloodstream, they may temporarily incapacitate the mother.

While that mother's milk may be completely safe for the infant, that mother's diminished concentration may make it less safe for her to be holding—and therefore nursing—the baby.

A more conservative approach might be to feed a baby expressed milk or formula until the medication wears off.

In other cases, physicians might be weighing the mother's ability to safely care for her baby against her ability to nurse that baby. This is often the consideration when prescribing antidepressants which may require cessation of breastfeeding.

Concentration of the provider

In weighing potentially competing recommendations about whether or not to stop nursing while on medication, it's also worth focusing on the physician's concentration. The safety of the infant is obviously of concern to any provider prescribing a medication to a nursing mother. But it's important to note that, in cases where medication is deemed medically necessary for a lactating mother, the mother—not the baby—is the patient.

Although women should feel comfortable asking questions about alternative medications that may make it easier to continue breastfeeding, it's worth noting that at a time when everything now appears to revolve around the baby, the mother's provider will focus on the mother. Because of this, a physician may make recommendations about the mother's health that may be momentarily at odds with her plans to breastfeed.

So, can I take medication while breastfeeding?

When weighing the decision to take a medication and pause or stop breastfeeding, nursing mothers should consider all three of the above forms of concentration. They can ask their providers about the dosage and its possible effects on breast milk. They can ask how a medication deemed safe for breastfeeding might impact their own mental state. And they can ask for advice in weighing the health impacts of the medication against the drawbacks of pausing or stopping breastfeeding.

There are rare times when the best decision may be to pause breastfeeding or stop breastfeeding altogether. At those times, it's important to consider one last form of concentration. Infant formula is also a “concentration," a combination of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

The decision to use formula while on a potent medication can feel like a failure to many mothers, who are flooded with messages about the importance of breastfeeding. But if short-term formula use can ensure a long-term benefit for the mother, that mother can be a healthy parent to her baby for life.

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Teaching science to your child can sound kind of daunting. Don't be put off by memories of high school physics, though—science for little kids should be fun!

Science activities for toddlers and preschoolers are all about exploration and supporting the natural curiosity within each child. Children are born curious. All we have to do is provide the tools to explore the world around them, and encourage them to ask questions and follow their interests.

While science for little kids is all about fun, there is no reason to dumb it down. Feel free to use real scientific terminology wherever you can (kids are surprisingly receptive to it), and introduce the scientific method by asking kids for their hypothesis before you do an experiment together: What do they think will happen? Why?

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Whether you're interested in STEM-based projects to do at home or just need ideas for helping kids explore their world, these activities can help your family incorporate science education into your everyday life.

Here are 9 easy science activities and experiments to do with preschoolers and toddlers.

1. Observe a life cycle

Butterflies are fascinating to children, and not only because they're beautiful. The process of transforming from a caterpillar to a butterfly can seem pretty magical.

Butterfly kits let your child watch the process of a life cycle up close. For toddlers, just observing the caterpillar, looking closely at the chrysalis and watching the beautiful butterflies that (eventually) emerge is enough. For preschoolers, you may want to prompt them to draw what they see at each stage, or to write a few words about the process.

A book about butterflies (or this one for toddlers) can further support their interest.

Take this activity a step further by creating a butterfly garden in your backyard, or finding a local butterfly garden where you can release the butterflies.

2. Create a habitat

Is your child fascinated by roly polies, ladybugs or snails? Creating an insect habitat, whether in a bug box or just a corner of your backyard, is a great way to stoke that interest.

What do ladybugs eat? Where do they like to sleep? These kinds of questions can really inspire a child to think like a scientist and are super easy to answer, either though a trip to the library or a quick Google search.

3. Sink + float

This is the simplest possible experiment, but that doesn't make it any less fun. Fill a container (or the bathtub) with water, gather some objects, and ask your child which objects they think will sink, and which they think will float.

Then let them experiment! A toddler will most likely just play in the water with the objects, and you can point out that some sink to the bottom and some float on top.

For a preschooler, you may want to encourage them to categorize which items sink and which float. They can make a list, or simply divide the objects into two piles. Then you can compare the categories and talk about why some things sink and others float.

You can do "sink and float" again and again with different themes. Try using objects you find in nature or using items from the kitchen.

4. Build a marble run

Using simple materials such as paper towel tubes, cardboard, yarn, tape and glue, challenge your preschooler to make a ramp for a marble to go down. (Toddlers can do a version of this experiment using a rubber ball in place of a marble.) Your child can experiment to see what slopes and what materials make the marble travel the fastest!

5. Watch the weather

Observing the weather is something even young toddlers enjoy. Talk to them about the vocabulary for different types of weather and invite them to help you check the weather before getting dressed each day. If they enjoy this, try setting up a weather station they can be in charge of, and let them play mini meteorologist.

6. Stargaze

If your goal is to ignite your child's curiosity in science and the world around them, anything outer space-related is a pretty good bet.

Try reading a book about space (this one is great!) to inspire some real-world stargazing. You can invest in a telescope if they're really into it, or you can also enjoy a special stargazing time with your child using no equipment other than a blanket for the backyard—and maybe a cozy snack or some hot cocoa.

Look up into the night sky together and talk about what you see. You don't need to be a NASA scientist or know the names for all the constellations: The moon and the big dipper are plenty fascinating for a little kid.

With regular stargazing sessions, your child will start to notice things like the phases of the moon, the movement of the moon across the sky, and the way that stars form "pictures" in the sky. They might even see a shooting star! That is the kind of experience that will not only spark their interest in science, but that will stay with them as a special memory forever.

7. Study animals

Have you ever known a 3-year-old who can name every player on the Yankees, or can rattle off the names of more dinosaurs than you've ever heard of? Young children can absorb so many words—why not put that skill to good use?

This science activity comes straight from the Montessori classroom and encourages young children's desire to absorb precise and rich language.

Choose an animal they're interested in and help them learn the scientific names for the body parts. It's extra fun to choose an animal your child has real life experience with, like a dog or a squirrel. You can use the Montessori parts of an animal puzzle and labels, or simply use a drawing or photograph of the animal and label the parts for your child.

8. Experiment with ice

Fill two ice cube trays, one with water and one with salt water. Put them in the freezer (or outside, if it's cold enough where you live!) and observe to see which freezes faster.

Freeze some small toys (like these Toob animals) in ice and ask your child for ideas on how to get them out.

There are tons of easy experiments you can do with ice whether it's winter or summer—in winter, watch things freeze outside, and in summer you can watch them melt!

9. Make a rainbow

Few scientific activities are simpler than making a rainbow with a prism and sunny window, which really does bring the science of rainbows alive for children. Place the prism in a basket by a window, along with a book about rainbows (and maybe rainbow-colored crayons and paper) to inspire your child to explore independently.

10. Catalog a collection

Does your child collect little bits and bobs everywhere? Do they come home with pockets full of rocks or feathers?

Instead of lamenting the small piles of pebbles you find all over your house, show your child how to organize their collection in a scientific way. Help them come up with a system of sorting their treasures however they like (size? color? type?) and provide a certain spot in the house or backyard where the objects belong.

11. Plant a seed

For toddlers and preschoolers, something as simple as planting a seed is a perfect scientific activity. To increase their interest, choose a seed or pit from something you're eating, like an apple, avocado or peach. Choose something that grows in your area and invite your child to help you plant the seed. They will be fascinated watching it sprout and grow.

12. Read science books together

There are so many wonderful science books out there for kids. Books like Ada Twist, Scientist, What Do You Do With an idea? and The Most Magnificent Thing celebrate children's curiosity and introduce the scientific method.

Of course you can also find countless books at the library on various aspects of science to encourage your child's interests, whether that's snails or volcanoes!

Whatever kind of scientific activity you choose to do, just remember to let your child lead the way. It might not turn out how you expect, but the goal is really just to encourage your child to explore with curiosity.

Learn + Play

Wouldn't it be nice to throw on mascara and instantly look well-rested? Let's set the scene: You've been up all night caring for your sick toddler and you look extremely tired. You quickly apply a waterproof, lengthening and volumizing mascara and poof—tired eyes begone. Sounds like a magic trick, right? But we have a few mascaras in our makeup bag that can do just that, mama.

These are our favorite mascaras to use that make us look well-rested and ready to conquer the day, even if we're running on just a few hours:

Tarte surfer curl mascara

Tarte surfer curl mascara

Whether you're prepping for hot yoga, a day at the beach, or just keeping up with the kiddos, Tarte's latest mascara is perfect for a mamas active lifestyle. It's a vitamin E- based mascara that delivers sweatproof, weightless volume without the clumps. Pro tip: Just do the top lashes for a more natural look.

$23

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna full frontal volume, lift + curl mascara

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna full frontal volume, lift + curl mascara

This popular mascara was designed to deliver Rihanna's full lash look, and we must admit, after three applications, our lashes turned out thicker and fuller than ever. The key to this formula is that it's paired with aflat-to-fat brush that customizes what you need. The fat side holds lots of product to quickly load and lift lashes, while the flat side defines and curls each lash.

$24

Maybelline lash sensational mascara

Maybelline lash sensational mascara

Not ready to spend loads of money on a beauty product? We hear you. That's why we love this liquid ink formula from Maybelline. It coats from all sides for full coverage with a featherlight feel. Just be careful with your application—it requires a good makeup remover to remove.

$9.99

L'Oréal voluminous lash paradise mascara

L'Or\u00e9al voluminous lash paradise mascara

If a deep black color is what you're after, this mascara will get you there in the best way possible. The soft wavy bristle brush gives lots of volume and the 200 bristles catch every lash for a full fringe effect. No, seriously—get the results you crave in only two coats!

$10.99

Stila Cosmetics magnum xxx mascara

Stila Cosmetics magnum xxx mascara

Suffer from thin, straight lashes that never seem to curl? This creamy, non-clumping formula is buildable and gives instant volume. It's also pretty cool that the blossom-shaped fiber wand is carved in a curved silhouette that dispenses just the right amount of formula on each individual lash for lots of volume.

$23

Marc Jacobs velvet noir major volume mascara

Marc Jacobs velvet noir major volume mascara

When we heard that this mascara was inspired by Marc Jacobs' first beauty memory of his mother shaving fibers from a velvet ribbon to create her own faux lashes, we knew this was something special. This mascara gives smudge-proof length and volume in three strokes or less.

$27

IT Cosmetics superhero mascara

 IT Cosmetics superhero mascara

If black mascara leaves you with raccoon eyes by the end of the day, this mascara might be your new bestie. Developed with plastic surgeons, and clinically tested, it provides both length and volume in one coat. Also, the formula contains collagen, biotin and peptides to condition your lashes as you coat.

$24

Too Faced better than sex waterproof mascara

Too Faced better than sex waterproof mascara

Without question, the original better than sex mascara lives up to its name, and the waterproof feature on this one is an added bonus. The hourglass-shaped brush was designed with extra stiff bristles to maximize the performance of this super black, collagen-fueled formula. But, once on your lashes, prepare to rub for a long time to get it off.

$25

Lancôme monsieur big mascara

Lanc\u00f4me Monsieur big mascara

This is one of Lancôme's bestselling mascaras and we get why. For starters, it's a creamy formula with a gel-like texture that does not require touch-ups. It also brings a ton of volume, without the flaking.

$25

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Beauty + Style Shopping Guides

I have a confession: I don't know how to cook. As in, I don't even know how to make toast—that's how bad I am in the kitchen. When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was repeatedly told that I needed nourishing food, not only to grow two babies but to support my body in the process.

At first I lived off of food delivery services, but quickly realized it was both terrible for the environment—so many containers!—and for my wallet. So I started my quest for more sustainable options. Since I'm not great at cooking (and nausea was peaking for me up until 20 weeks) doing a subscription box that sends you the ingredients for you to prepare was not an option for me. Trust me, I tried it once before and it didn't go well.

But then I discovered three food services that really fit my needs during pregnancy and are also going to be super helpful during my postpartum recovery.

Here are the food services I tried (and spoiler: I loved):

Splendid Spoon

Splendid Spoon

Splendid Spoon is a plant-based food service with a variety of options. You can choose from three tiers: Lunch for $65, breakfast and lunch for $95 or breakfast, lunch and dinner for $135. All the plans are delivered weekly and you can build your own menu.

I went with the lunch option and focused on soups and grain bowls since it fit my schedule and needs the most (my husband usually cooks dinner for us and I have breakfast with our toddler). There are 26 available options for bowls, each one looking more delicious than the other, so it was a bit hard to narrow down to what I thought would be my favorite.

All the flavors I got were delicious and super filling. Plus, I felt better knowing I was getting a healthy serving of veggies in my diet just by including a bowl in my daily routine.

The best part? Their packaging is 100% recyclable, so I had no guilt like I had with all of my delivery orders.

$65

Bumpin Blends

Bumpin Blends

This service is specifically designed for pregnant and postpartum mamas to fully nourish their bodies. You get frozen cubes in different flavors to make either seven 16-ounce smoothies or fourteen 8-ounce smoothies (depends on how hungry you are!). I really loved these because they were such a breeze to make. Just pop the cubes in your blender, add your favorite liquid (some blends come with recommendations but you can always swap to whatever fits your dietary restrictions) blend and enjoy.

You can choose between one-time bundle for $88 or a subscription that ships every two weeks for $80. All the ingredients they use are organic and free of added sugars, artificial flavoring and preservatives.

Because they need to stay frozen through shipping and delivery, they come in a cooler box that is actually compostable, which helps me stay eco-friendly.

$88

twenty-five EIGHT

twenty-five eight

This food service was created to support women in whatever stage they are in with bundles for postpartum and breastfeeding mamas and women during their period. All bundles are packed with delicious and nutritious meals and snacks, which you get to build based on your preferences.

You can either select their bundles or pick a meal plan. You get to select between 3-15 meals depending on how many meals you'll need. If you prefer, you can also shop individual recipes, like their organic ginger carrot soup.

The food comes in either recyclable packaging or glass jars that you can use over and over again. If you're better than me, you can recreate your favorite soup and store it in the glass container, but I'm not ready to go there.

$130

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Lifestyle

There is so much joy in the world right now, even if our news feeds and the headlines in the paper don't always show it. Babies are being born, mothers are harnessing their power and children (yes, little children) are changing this big world.

That's why we are always on the lookout for the stories that are going to make us smile, because there are certainly things in this world that are upsetting and worth worrying about, but there is also so much joy, so much resilience and an amazing future ahead of us.

These are the stories that made us smile this week:

Mom's post goes viral after she gives baby advice meant for goats 😂

Have you ever replied to a post in an online group thinking you're in another one? It's happened to a lot of us, but never quite as hilariously as it happened to Hailey McHone.

McHone is a member of multiple Facebook groups, including a mom's group and a group for goat owners. When someone needed advice about an ill kid (which, to be fair, can mean a young human or a young goat) McHone replied with goat advice, thinking she was in that group.

"Put the kids in a plastic bag in a warm bath. 103-104 degree water is the best. Rub honey and cayenne on their gums," she wrote.

When one of the Facebook group members asked why a parent would want to raise an infant's temperature, McHone realized her mistake.

"[O]h my god," she wrote. "I thought this was in my goat emergency group. Normal goat temperature is 102. All this advice is for baby goats. Please do not follow any of it."

McHone's advice may not have been what OP was looking for, but it sure made the rest of the group (and now the whole internet) crack up.

2-year-old sees himself reflected in Target display and his reaction went viral 

Representation matters for kids with disabilities, as nearly 2-year-old Oliver Garza-Pena and his mom demonstrated with their now-viral post about a trip to Target.

"Oliver stopped me dead in his tracks and turned back around to see this picture that he spotted! He just stared at it in awe! He recognized another boy like him, smiling and laughing on a display at Target. Oliver sees kids every day, but he never gets to see kids like him. This was amazing!" his mom, Demi Garza-Pena, wrote on Facebook, in a post that has been shared more than 34,000 times.

Oliver's experience is similar to one writer Jamie Sumner had with her then 6-year-old son Charlie at Target back in 2018.

"But when we rolled past the Cat and Jack sign with the little boy in the walker, it became a different kind of day. For Charlie, who has cerebral palsy, it was the moment he saw his own lifestyle reflected in the world."

Thank you, Target, for including kids who move through the world a little differently.

This little girl is going viral and providing 'more than peach' crayons

When Bellen Woodard was in third grade she began to wonder why classmates would refer to the peach crayon as "skin-color" when skin comes in so many colors besides peach. That's why she launched the "More Than Peach" project, aiming to celebrate and highlight diversity by giving kids the art supplies they need to draw what they see in the mirror, at home and in the classroom.

Multicultural crayon and marker packs do exist thanks to Crayola and the company is now helping Bellen put diverse art supplies in the hands of her elementary school peers in Loudoun County, Virgina.

Thank you, Bellen!

Sisters go viral after giving birth on the same day, in the same hospital 

What's better than having twin? Having a "cousin-twin"! That's what sisters Charell Anthony and Cierra Anthony of Indianapolis call their little ones, Terry Valentino (Charell's newborn son) and Dream Monique (Cierra's newborn daughter).

Terry and Dream were born on February 12 at Community Hospital East in Indianapolis, Good Morning America reports. "They're going to be really close," Charell told GMA. "Being born on the same day, that's going to be really special for them."

It was a special memory for the extended family, who were going back and forth between the two hospital rooms and could not believe the timing. "They were so excited," said Cierra.

Viral Instagram photo series shows surrogacy birth creating a family + a friendship

Olatz Mendiola Marinas of San Sebastian, Spain, wanted so badly to be a mother and Celeste Remediz of Texas made her one. Now the two women are connected by a bond most can't conceive of, one that was documented by photographer Stephanie Cabrera of Reborn From Within, who was there for the birth of baby Kala and posted her photos on Instagram.

"I feel so lucky to get to witness how amazing the love between people can be. Surrogacy is something I've always admired, to provide someone with the gift of love, a gift more precious than any other gift in the world is incredibly special," Cabrera, the photographer, tells Motherly.

The surrogate, Celeste Remediz, a former Dallas police officer, told Good Morning America that she found out about her own third pregnancy a bit late in the game, around 5 months along, and felt a bit robbed of the pregnancy experience because of that. Three kids were enough for Remediz and her husband, but she wanted to be pregnant again.

"After the birth of our daughter, I told my husband that if she was to be our last child, I felt I had missed out on half of the pregnancy and didn't get to fully enjoy it and take it all in. I love being pregnant and enjoyed all my pregnancies," Remediz told GMA.

Credit: Stephanie Cabrera/ Reborn From Within

Remediz continues: "I realized then, that if my husband and I were done growing our family, I could be pregnant again and help someone else grow theirs through surrogacy. My husband agreed to support me and we found the agency who did an amazing job matching us to Olatz."

The two women became super close.

"Since I knew Celeste was going to be the surrogate mother, we started to talk regularly on the phone and got along well very quickly," said Marinas, the intended mother. "I had the chance to live with Celeste three weeks before giving birth and to be fully involved in her family['s] daily life, which really allowed me to get to know her well, support her and share her feelings on a daily basis."

Remediz says she was elated when the baby she'd just given birth to was placed in Marinas's arms. "I felt like the baby's aunt or something but never like her mother. This journey has been one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done and has taught me so much," she explains.

Credit: Stephanie Cabrera/ Reborn From Within

Cabrera says she was inspired by the two mothers who shared a birth and shared their story, and plans to continue capturing birth stories like this one to show the world that there are so many ways to become a mother, and so many ways to support mothers.

"My family and I will be traveling full-time the next few years in our old restored Volkswagen bus and by plane. During this time I will be documenting various individuals during their prenatal, birth and postpartum process. One of my biggest goals is to highlight all of the inspiring birth workers and organizations that greatly improve birth outcomes for everyone especially for people of color and low-income communities that are so often marginalized and at higher risk for maternal and infant mortality. This documentation will also take me across borders to document birthing traditions in other countries and cultures," Cabrera tells Motherly.

These are three incredible women and such incredible pictures.

News
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