Breastfeeding is often an incredibly intense, difficult thing to do. It can simultaneously give you amazing bonding time with your baby and cause you exhaustion, pain, and a feeling of being all touched out. The majority of infants are breastfed for at least some time, with over half still being breastfed at six months.
One reason babies might not be breastfed for the recommended time is due to concern about taking medication while breastfeeding. When you have a UTI while breastfeeding, you might wonder how to safely treat it and whether it can affect your baby.
Table of Contents
- What Is a UTI?
- Are UTIs Common While Breastfeeding?
- Does Breastfeeding Increase the Risk of a UTI?
- Can You Breastfeed With a UTI?
- Can I Pass a UTI to My Baby?
- How to Treat a UTI While Breastfeeding?
- What Medicine Can You Take for a UTI While Breastfeeding?
- Natural Cures for a UTI While Breastfeeding
- How Can I Prevent UTI While Breastfeeding?
- When to See a Doctor?
What Is a UTI?
A UTI is a urinary tract infection. That means that there are too many bacteria somewhere in the urinary tract, which includes the urethra, bladder, and kidneys, as well as the tubes from the bladder to the kidneys. Most UTIs start in the urethra, but they may get worse and travel into other parts of the urinary tract.
Are UTIs Common While Breastfeeding?
A postpartum UTI is definitely not uncommon. There are several reasons you might be more likely to have a UTI after having a baby or while breastfeeding. Firstly, being pregnant and giving birth may have affected your bladder or urethra. Pressure or damage from a vaginal birth or anesthesia during the birth could both be issues. You might have swelling or perineal pain, and you could feel discomfort if you had to have a catheter fitted too, which many who have a C-section do. Pain or fear of pain after birth can also make it difficult to use the toilet.
UTIs are common for women anyway, and around half will experience one at some point in their life. Therefore, breastfeeding women could find that they experience urinary tract infections at some point, especially if they breastfeed for longer. They happen in around 2-4% of all births too, so you could develop a UTI after having your baby.
Does Breastfeeding Increase the Risk of a UTI?
Breastfeeding doesn’t directly increase the risk of UTIs, but there could be some reasons that you’re more likely to develop a UTI while breastfeeding.
You might be urinating less frequently, perhaps because you are experiencing pain or even just because you’re finding it hard to get a moment to yourself. Holding it in for too long could mean that more bacteria develop because it’s not getting flushed out as often. Dehydration could also possibly contribute to the risk of UTIs, and breastfeeding requires a lot of fluids.
It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re breastfeeding and make sure you’re peeing frequently too.
Additionally, you could be at higher risk for bladder infections due to producing less estrogen while lactating. This can lead to a higher-than-normal amount of bacteria and a higher likelihood of bacteria entering the urethra.
Can You Breastfeed With a UTI?
If you have a UTI while you are breastfeeding, you should continue to breastfeed your baby. It’s important for your baby to continue to receive the fluids and nutrition that they are getting from your breast milk, and there’s no need to stop breastfeeding when you have a UTI.
Make sure you stay hydrated, practice good hygiene, and seek treatment for the infection. You can treat both the symptoms and the infection itself to relieve the pain and discomfort.
Can I Pass a UTI to My Baby?
A UTI cannot be passed to your baby through breastfeeding. In fact, breastfeeding might be able to reduce the risk of UTIs in newborn babies, although the evidence isn’t very clear.
How to Treat a UTI While Breastfeeding?
Many mothers worry about taking any medication when breastfeeding, so you might be concerned about treating a UTI. However, there is no need to stop breastfeeding or avoid medication when you have a UTI. Urinary tract infections are usually treated with antibiotics, many of which have been shown to be safe to take while breastfeeding.
It’s possible that your baby might experience some diarrhea while you are taking antibiotics. This is something to watch out for and discuss with your doctor, but it’s usually a temporary side effect that shouldn’t cause too many problems.
What Medicine Can You Take for a UTI While Breastfeeding?
There are several options for treating a UTI with medication while you are breastfeeding. It’s generally safe to take antibiotics, which are a standard treatment for UTIs. Most antibiotics are safe for breastfeeding mothers to take to treat UTIs.
Antibiotics that are generally safe to use include:
- Amoxycillin, Amoxil ®,
- Azithromycin, Zithromax®,
- Cefaclor, Distaclor®,
- Cefuroxime, Zinnat®
- Cephalexin, Cefalexin, Keflex®,
- Cephradine, Velosef®,
- Clarithromycin, Klaricid®,
- Co-amoxiclav, Augmentin®,
- Co-fluampicil, Flucloxacillin+ Ampicillin, Magnapen®
- Erythromycin, Erymax®, Erythrope®, Erythrocin®
- Flucloxacillin, Floxapen®,
- Penicillin V, Phenoxymethyl penicillin
- Pivmecillinam, Selexid®
- Trimethoprim, Monotrim®
Natural Cures for a UTI While Breastfeeding
There are some natural remedies and complementary therapies that some people might like to try while breastfeeding. These might help to relieve some discomfort or could possibly help to treat a UTI without medication.
Eating cranberries or drinking cranberry juice are often recommended to help treat UTIs. It’s also helpful to stay hydrated, urinate often (avoid holding it in), and maintain good hygiene while you have a urinary tract infection.
However, while some of these natural alternatives are sometimes suggested to help with UTIs, it’s important to see your doctor. The best treatment is usually antibiotics if you want to treat the infection.
UTI Pain Relief While Breastfeeding
Urinary tract infections can be painful, but you might be concerned about using pain relief medications while you are breastfeeding. It’s always important to speak to your doctor, but paracetamol/acetaminophen is usually safe to take. You should check with a doctor before taking ibuprofen or other medications for pain relief.
Other ways to help relieve pain from a UTI include using a hot water bottle or something similar to relieve cramps. Keep drinking plenty of fluids to help flush out the bacteria and don’t avoid going to the toilet, even if it’s uncomfortable.
How Can I Prevent a UTI While Breastfeeding?
The steps you can take to prevent a UTI while you’re breastfeeding are the same things you should do at any other time. There are several ways to help prevent urinary tract infections by taking care of yourself.
Firstly, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Breastfeeding can dehydrate you, so keep topping up your fluids. Try to get a glass of water to sit down with before feeding. Make sure you go to the toilet when you need to go, which will help to flush out bacteria and prevent them from building up.
You should also maintain good hygiene, keeping your vulva clean to help prevent infections. Wipe from front to back when you go to the toilet, change tampons or pads regularly, and wear clean, cotton underwear every day.
Is It Ok to Breastfeed if You Have a Urinary Tract Infection?
You should keep breastfeeding if you have a urinary tract infection. There’s no need to stop, and you can’t pass a UTI on to your baby.
What Can You Take for a UTI While Breastfeeding?
Most antibiotics are safe for both you and your baby while you are breastfeeding. Speak to your doctor about what you can take and any potential side effects to look out for.
Can You Take AZO for UTI While Breastfeeding?
AZO makes a range of urinary health products. You should speak to a doctor before using these products if you are breastfeeding, as per the advice from AZO.
Can I Take Antibiotics for a UTI While Breastfeeding?
You can usually take antibiotics to treat a UTI while you are breastfeeding. Most antibiotics are safe, so speak to a doctor about which medication is suitable for you.
When to See a Doctor?
If you think that you have a urinary tract infection, you should make an appointment with a doctor. It’s important to make sure that it is a UTI and not something else, as well as get advice on the right treatment. Antibiotics require a prescription, but you can speak to an online doctor and get a prescription without having to visit a doctor’s office.
Some of the signs of a UTI include difficulty urinating, pain or discomfort when you pee, strong-smelling or cloudy urine, and blood in your urine. Don’t just ignore it if you think you have a UTI. It’s essential to get the right treatment.
- Getting a postpartum UTI is fairly common, so many women experience them while breastfeeding
- It’s safe to keep breastfeeding if you have a UTI and you can’t pass the infection to your child
- Most antibiotics are safe to use for the treatment of a UTI while breastfeeding
- Antibiotics could have a side effect of giving your baby loose stools but it’s usually temporary
- Some natural remedies could help to relieve some of the symptoms you experience
- Stay hydrated and maintain good hygiene to help prevent UTIs
- Speak to a doctor before taking pain medication while breastfeeding
- Make an appointment with a doctor if you think you have a UTI
- Breastfeeding and medicines, NHS. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/breastfeeding-and-lifestyle/medicines/
- Antibiotics and Breastfeeding, The Breastfeeding Network. Available from: https://www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/antibiotics/
- Breastfeeding facts, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/facts.html
- Urinary Tract Infection, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/uti.html
DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.