Drugs Q & A

Can I Take Excedrin While Breastfeeding?

Generally, your hormones may fluctuate while breastfeeding, at the same time, in the early weeks of breastfeeding, oxytocin and prolactin surge. These hormonal fluctuations may lead to headaches.

In addition, you may be physically or emotionally drained by the demands of breastfeeding, this can also result in tension or migraine headache due to lack of sleep or dehydration.

According to the CDC, breast milk is designed to provide the appropriate amount of calories and optimal nutrition to support the growth and health of the infant. However, small amounts of what you’re eating and drinking including prescription medication, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements can pass to your baby through your breast milk.

Certain drugs such as alcohol, some illegal drugs, and some prescription and over-the-counter medications are known to cause problems if taken while you are breastfeeding.  

What is Excedrin?

Excedrin contains a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and a fever reducer. Aspirin is in a group of drugs called salicylates. It works by reducing substances in the body that cause pain, fever, and inflammation. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. It relaxes muscle contractions in blood vessels to improve blood flow.

Excedrin is used to treat pain caused by tension headaches, migraine headaches, muscle aches, menstrual cramps, arthritis, toothaches, the common cold, or nasal congestion.

Can I take Excedrin while breastfeeding?

No, avoid taking Excedrin while breastfeeding because it contains aspirin which can pass into breast milk in very small amounts, and has been linked to Reye’s syndrome in children.

In addition, when the caffeine in Excedrin enters your bloodstream, a small amount can be passed along to your baby through breast milk. Most babies aren’t affected by this, but some sensitive little ones may be extra fussy or wakeful after drinking milk with trace amounts of caffeine from Excedrin.

Excedrin side effects

Each of the three drugs in Excedrin Migraine can cause some side effects. Some effects may go away as your body becomes used to the medication. But if any of the common side effects cause problems for you or don’t go away, call your doctor. And if you have any serious side effects, call your doctor or 9-1-1 right away.

Common side effects

The more common side effects of Excedrin Migraine can be caused by the caffeine that’s in it. These side effects can include:

•          nervousness

•          feeling irritable

•          sleeping trouble

•          rapid heartbeat

Serious side effects

The serious side effects of Excedrin Migraine can be caused by the acetaminophen and aspirin it contains. These side effects can include:

•          allergic reaction, with symptoms such as:

o          trouble breathing

o          itchy, red blisters

o          rash

•          bleeding in the stomach, with symptoms such as:

o          bloody or black and tarry stools

o          vomiting blood

o          upset stomach that does not improve quickly

This is not a complete list of Excedrin. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Reye’s syndrome: Children and teenagers who have or are recovering from chicken pox or flu-like symptoms should not use this product. When using this product, if changes in behavior with nausea and vomiting occur, consult a doctor because these symptoms could be an early sign of Reye’s syndrome, a rare but serious illness.

Allergy alert: Acetaminophen may cause severe skin reactions. Symptoms may include:

• skin reddening
• blisters
• rash

If a skin reaction occurs, stop use and seek medical help right away.

Allergy alert: Aspirin may cause a severe allergic reaction which may include:

• hives
• facial swelling
• asthma (wheezing)
• shock

Liver warning: This product contains acetaminophen. Severe liver damage may occur if you take

• more than 8 caplets in 24 hours, which is the maximum daily amount
• with other drugs containing acetaminophen
• 3 or more alcoholic drinks every day while using this product

Stomach bleeding warning: This product contains an NSAID, which may cause severe stomach bleeding. The chance is higher if you

• are age 60 or older
• have had stomach ulcers or bleeding problems
• take a blood-thinning (anticoagulant) or steroid drug
• take other drugs containing prescription or nonprescription NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or others)
• have 3 or more alcoholic drinks every day while using this product
• take more or for a longer time than directed

Caffeine warning: The recommended dose of this product contains about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. Limit the use of caffeine-containing medications, foods, or beverages while taking this product because too much caffeine may cause nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, and, occasionally, rapid heartbeat.

Do not use:

• if you have ever had an allergic reaction to acetaminophen, aspirin, or any other pain reliever/fever reducer
• with any other drug containing acetaminophen (prescription or nonprescription). If you are not sure whether a drug contains acetaminophen, ask a doctor or pharmacist.

Ask a doctor before using if:

• you have liver disease
• stomach bleeding warning applies to you
• you have a history of stomach problems, such as heartburn
• you have high blood pressure, heart disease, liver cirrhosis, or kidney disease
• you are taking a diuretic
• you have asthma

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before use if you are taking:

• a prescription drug for diabetes, gout, or arthritis
• any other drug, or are under a doctor’s care for any serious condition

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

• an allergic reaction occurs. Seek medical help right away.
• you experience any of the following signs of stomach

• feel faint
• vomit blood
• have bloody or black stools
• have stomach pain that does not get better

• ringing in the ears or loss of hearing occurs
• painful area is red or swollen
• pain gets worse or lasts for more than 10 days
• fever gets worse or lasts for more than 3 days
• any new symptoms occur

These could be signs of a serious condition.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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