The Identifying and Counseling of Breastfeeding Women by Pharmacists

Christina Ronai, Julie Scott Taylor, Erin Dugan and Edward Feller
BREASTFEEDING MEDICINE Volume 4, Number 2, 2009


Objective: Concerns about medications influence breastfeeding decisions. Mothers may stop breastfeeding when they take medications. After the distribution of Thomas Hale’s Medications and Mother’s Milk (MMM) (Hale Publishing, Amarillo, TX, 2006) by the Rhode Island Department of Health (Providence, RI) in November 2006 to Rhode Island pharmacies, we investigated, during the summer of 2007, what strategies and resources pharmacists were using to identify breastfeeding women and guide medication recommendations.

Methods: Copies of MMM were sent to 47 pharmacies in Rhode Island. Subsequently, one pharmacist at each site completed a confidential, 10-question written survey.

Results: The survey response rate was 92%. More than half (58%) of the pharmacists surveyed never asked women if they were breastfeeding. Most (85%) of pharmacists reported feeling somewhat or very comfortable giving advice to breastfeeding women. All but one pharmacist who had received MMM reported using the reference at least monthly. More than half (52%) of the pharmacists reported using the Physician’s Desk Reference (Thomson PDR, Montvale, NJ).

Discussion: Pharmacists need a consistent approach to identify breastfeeding women and access to reliable, continuously updated resources to guide their advice about medication use to breastfeeding women. Physicians and pharmacists should collaborate to prevent medication use from being a barrier to breastfeeding.

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