Muscle Pain Relief While Breastfeeding: Safest Options + What To Avoid

| Reviewed By Sarah Schulze, MSN, APRN, CPNP

If you are breastfeeding, you may be curious about how different medications will affect your milk or milk supply.

Unfortunately, muscle aches and pains will creep in while breastfeeding, and you may find yourself trying to figure out what remedies are best for you and your little one. 

Is it safe to use Biofreeze while breastfeeding? Yes! Using pain relieving creams and gels such as Biofreeze are perfectly safe while breastfeeding as long as it does not come in contact with the baby’s mouth. Avoid applying directly to your breasts or other areas that will be in direct contact with the baby, and wash your hands after application.

Perhaps you have pain that cannot be soothed with Biofreeze. What are the other stipulations on pain relievers and breastfeeding? Let’s talk about it. 

Pain Relief While Breastfeeding

Aches and pains still come and go while breastfeeding. Who are we kidding — they may come even more often!

So, how do you get relief without contaminating your milk? What medicines are safe to take while breastfeeding? 

For Headaches and General Pain

What mama hasn’t had a headache or some other pain during her postpartum period? Fortunately, those headaches do not have to stay!

When looking for a pain reliever to relieve headaches or general pain, look for these ingredients that are safe for breastfeeding women: 

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • Naproxen Sodium (Aleve) 

For Muscle Aches and Pains

These are the most common muscle pain relievers that are perfectly safe to use while breastfeeding. 

  • Biofreeze 
  • Epsom salt baths
  • Tylenol
  • Ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory) 

What NOT To Take While Breastfeeding

Most medicines are safe to take while breastfeeding. However, there are some that should be avoided or used with caution.

It is always a good idea to check with your medical provider before taking any medication if you are breastfeeding. 

In terms of pain relievers, avoid taking codeine and oxycodone while breastfeeding. These are both prescription painkillers and are not likely to be prescribed to you if your doctor is aware that you are breastfeeding.

Drugs that contain salicylic acid, such as aspirin, should be used with caution.

Muscle Rub While Breastfeeding

Many breastfeeding women prefer to use topical creams or gels to soothe achy muscles rather than taking medication.

Some of the most popular products include Biofreeze, Icy Hot, Penetrex, and DoTerra’s Deep Blue.

There is very little, if any, absorption of these products into the breastmilk, and they can usually be applied without interrupting breastfeeding. 

Muscle Rub Ingredients

Most muscle rubs include at least one or both of these active ingredients: menthol and methyl salicylate.

These ingredients are used to treat minor pains caused by arthritis, simple backache, bruises, cramps, or muscle strains or sprains. 

Menthol While Breastfeeding

Most rubs or lozenges with menthol are safe for breastfeeding mothers because very little makes it into the bloodstream and, therefore, into the milk supply.

However, menthol is derived from peppermint oil, which may temporarily reduce milk supply in some women. 

When and Where NOT To Use Muscle Rubs While Breastfeeding

Muscle rubs are safe to use just about anytime while breastfeeding. However, it is best to avoid using them on your breasts or anywhere that comes into direct contact with your baby as the medicine is not safe for infants.

If you need to use muscle rub on your chest or surrounding areas, it is best to wait until after a nursing session. 

Essential Oils To Avoid While Breastfeeding

These are some of the most common oils to avoid while breastfeeding. It is not a complete list, so be sure to always check with a medical professional if you are in doubt about an oil. 

  • Aniseed
  • Bergamot
  • Birch
  • Parsley
  • Sage 
  • Wormwood

Since the FDA does not regulate essential oils, it is always best to check with your provider before using a new oil. Stick to pure oils, and always stop using them if there is an adverse reaction. 

Essential oils should not be ingested. They should only be used topically (and should be diluted) or for aromatherapy. 

How To Deal With Muscle Aches and Pains While Breastfeeding

Muscle aches and pains are no fun. Add that to the difficulties of breastfeeding, and you have a recipe for one irritable mama!

Fortunately, there are ways to deal with these annoying pains while protecting your milk supply.

In addition to using muscle rubs and taking safe pain relievers, here are some natural remedies to consider: 

  • Treat yourself to a massage.
  • Apply heat or ice as needed to soothe joints and reduce inflammation.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Turmeric. 
  • Stretch daily. 
  • Exercise to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers.
  • Spend some time outdoors.
  • Soak in Epsom salt baths.
  • Add more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet.

Related Questions: 

Can I Use Pain Relief Cream While Pregnant? 

Yes. Pain relief creams are safe to use while pregnant. 

Can Breastfeeding Make Your Muscles Hurt? 

Unfortunately, breastfeeding can be the culprit of many aches and pains. Sore breasts and nipples are common side effects of breastfeeding.

Other common aches include sore back, neck, and arm muscles from holding the baby while nursing and staying in one position for an extended period of time. 

Can Babies Absorb Things Through Their Skin? 

Yes. A baby’s skin is more permeable and, therefore, more absorbent than adult skin. This is why many creams and oils are not safe for infants. 

Final Thoughts

Breastfeeding is no easy feat, and you shouldn’t have to deal with muscle pains at the same time! Hopefully, you found some helpful information in this article and are ready to tackle any ache or pain you may have!