Pain medication postpartum

Whether you had a vaginal birth or a C-section, epidural or no epidural, there is going to be residual pain after you deliver your little one. It’s perfectly normal, and the majority of new moms elect to take some pain medication to help them manage the discomfort. So which pain medications are often prescribed or recommended after giving birth?

After giving birth, you can take most standard pain relievers. If you’re not breastfeeding, there are few restrictions on which medications you can take that didn’t exist before your pregnancy, though one significant exception is medications that increase the risk of blood clots. 

If you are breastfeeding, you can safely ease the discomfort of breast and vaginal soreness with over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen. A good general rule to follow is that any medication you can give to an infant are generally safe to take while breastfeeding. You should always consult with your healthcare provider before you start taking medication while breastfeeding, but Tylenol or Advil are good choices for pain relief while breastfeeding. For additional medications found to be safe while breastfeeding, consult this list from the Mayo Clinic:

Pain relievers

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others)
  • Naproxen (Naprosyn®) — short-term use only

Antimicrobial medications

  • Fluconazole (Diflucan) – prescription-only
  • Miconazole (Monistat 3) — apply minimal amount
  • Clotrimazole (Mycelex, ) — apply minimal amount – prescription-only
  • Penicillins (amoxicillin, ampicillin, others)- prescription-only
  • Cephalosporins (Keflex)- prescription-only


  • Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert, others)
  • Fexofenadine (Allegra)


  • Medications containing pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Zyrtec D, others) — use with caution because pseudoephedrine can decrease milk supply

Birth control pills

  • Progestin-only contraceptives – prescription-only

Gastrointestinal medications

  • Famotidine (Pepcid)
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet HB)


  • Paroxetine (Paxil) – prescription-only
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)- prescription-only
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)- prescription-only

Constipation medications

  • Docusate sodium (Colace)

Another helpful database to determine which medications are safe is LactMed, a drugs and lactation database through the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Click here to go to the LactMed website.

If you have questions or concerns about your pain or any medication you’re considering, don’t hesitate to check in with your healthcare provider.

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “What medications are safe to take while breastfeeding?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. July 30, 2015. Web.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Labor and delivery, postpartum care.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. March 24, 2015. Web.
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