Quickbite: Psychotropic medication in breastfeeding

by Dr Charles Musters and Dr Anthony Soares


Published: August 2012


Psychiatrists often need to prescribe medication to breastfeeding women. This is because mental illness is common in pregnancy and the postnatal period: around 13% of women develop postnatal depression, and 0.1% develop puerperal psychosis. Medication can be an important part of an overall treatment plan


This may include antidepressants for patients with severe depressive illness, and antipsychotics used to treat or reduce the risk of puerperal psychosis. Psychological therapies also play an important role in the treatment of perinatal mental illness, but these are beyond the scope of this module.


Although the majority of medications are unlicensed in breastfeeding, many women need medication and wish to breastfeed. This module will give you the knowledge required to prescribe with confidence.


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Please note: This module was last updated in 2012. Please be aware when completing the module that some of the guidance may have changed.


If you are interested in updating this material, please contact us.
If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


Psychotropic medication and the heart: Part 1 and Part 2 by Dr Sridevi Sira Mahalingappa et al 


Psychiatric aspects of perinatal loss by Dr William Badenhorst


Or why not try another Quickbite module?:


Monitoring and managing the renal adverse effects of lithium by Dr Sumeet Gupta and Dr Udayan Khastgir


Personal development plans: how to make them work by Dr Anne Worrall-Davies


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