When you’re pregnant or lactating, certain medications are off limits. Drugs are designed with certain populations in mind, so what works for an adult might be unsafe for a fetus or breastfeeding baby. But pregnant and postpartum people are often not told “why” a drug isn’t safe. Chelsea Allison, CEO and founder of Motherfigure, is changing that with a new pregnancy and lactation database.
“My pregnancy and postpartum experience was marked by a lot of uncertainty and fear because I didn’t have the kind of information I felt I needed,” says Allison. “If I had a headache, I’d avoid taking Tylenol because I didn’t understand what made it okay versus some of the other NSAIDs. When I needed a local anesthetic, my dentist suggested I just pump and dump; I decided to postpone the procedure instead of risking the breastfeeding relationship I was still working to establish. In countless situations, I’d get a simple yes, or no, or maybe, when I asked if something was okay—but never the why, which is really what I yearned for.”
From anti-anxiety medications to constipation aids, you can find information on lactating– and pregnancy-safe medications and others that are unsafe. Each listing includes classification, any scientific names and common brand names, what it’s used for, pregnancy risks and recommendations, and lactation risks and recommendations. You’ll also find links to references, in case you want to dig a bit deeper into the sources cited.
“The information is drawn from primary sources including research studies, the National Library of Medicine’s peer-reviewed Drugs and Lactation database, and FDA research and direct labeling,” says Allison. “We also regularly consult healthcare providers and lactation consultants to understand questions they often receive.”
This database aims to provide supplemental information to conversations with your provider.
“It’s not meant to substitute for consulting with healthcare providers. Instead, it’s to help empower families as they make decisions and offer a credible, easy-to-use counter to so much of the confusion and panic waiting for people online,” says Allison. “We launched this directory with hopes to bring some clarity, resources and peace of mind to moms no matter where they are on their journey. Our hope is to make this information accessible so that people can feel more informed as they follow up with their healthcare providers and take control of their care.”
At Motherfigure, they believe that knowledge is power, says Allison. She and her team hope that this database will help empower moms and families during this confusing time
“Motherfigure is focused on empowering moms and moms-to-be—which includes helping them get better support and care and bringing greater awareness to their health,” says Allison. “Many moms are not empowered in making choices around medication, pregnancy, and lactation—they’re told to ask their doctors, and told a binary yes or no. Our hope with this database launch is to provide continued resources and transparency for moms and moms-to-be to ensure they are getting the best and most accurate information during these pivotal times in their lives.”