Nursing can be tough. Between the exhaustive round-the-clock schedules, endless diaper changes, and making sure that little ones are both fed and happy, there is often very little room for anything else. And on top of all that, many nursing mothers must contend with a host of new responsibilities—such as taking medication—that they've never had to consider before.
Enter Zoloft—one of the most commonly prescribed medications in America today—for those suffering from depression or anxiety disorders. But when it comes to nursing mothers specifically, one question remains at the forefront: Is it safe?
The Short Answer
Short answer: yes.
So don't worry—you won't have to give up your antidepressants just because you're breastfeeding. But before you go ahead and start popping your pills willy-nilly, let's take a look at some important facts about how Zoloft interacts with breast milk.
How Does Zoloft Transfer To Breast Milk?
One common concern among nursing moms is whether their babies will absorb any significant amounts of medication through breast milk—which could lead to unwanted side effects such as agitation or poor developmental outcomes. In general however most studies indicate that the amount transferred is minimal unless taken in large doses.
In fact according to researchers in medical literature^1 , levels detected within infants receiving transmitted doses via mother’s milk were relatively low compared with mother plasma concentrations post ingestion. There were only two reported cases where adverse reactions were established following maternal use.
Overall since infant ingestions dose concentrations are typically less than 10% transmission relative to maternal dosages therefore establishing clinical significance has been difficult.
And while some women do experience drowsiness or other mild side effects shortly after taking their daily dose(s) over time these symptoms tended not
to persist nor demanded clinical evaluation further corroborating this.
Why Are Breastfeeding Moms Prescribed Zoloft?
While many women experience postpartum depression or anxiety after giving birth, nursing mothers have an extra incentive to seek out medication for their symptoms. Lack of sleep and stress from caring for a newborn can exacerbate depressive and anxious tendencies, which in turn can make it difficult to bond with your baby^2.
If left untreated, these conditions could even lead to postpartum psychosis—a rare but serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. So doctors may choose to err on the side of caution by recommending that breastfeeding women take antidepressants such as Zoloft.
How Effective Is Zoloft At Treating Postpartum Depression?
There is growing evidence supporting use effectiveness of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including, fluoxetine, sertraline and citalopram in treating depression related disorders (JAMA Internal Medicine)^3 . This has prompted wider recommendations among Primary care professionals for patients where non-pharmacological interventions failed.
Among representatives tasks such as audit methodologies conducted amongst primary healthcare physicians found widespread recognition consistent with increased prescription trends toward SSRIs^4 . Although efficacy towards improved patient outcomes is significant especially when combined with other behavioral therapies more comprehensive reviews may be necessary regarding experiences abroad.
What You Should Know About Taking Zoloft While Nursing
Before you start taking any new medication while breastfeeding—and especially one as powerful as Zoloft—you should always consult your doctor beforehand. But here are some things you might expect:
Most experts recommend waiting at least two hours after taking a dose before offering your baby their next feeding. This will give the drug time to metabolize effectively within mom’s body before her milk begins flowing again.
Your Baby's Health
As we mentioned earlier small amounts shouldn't cause worry however if they do become distressed upon looking the voluntary National Institutes of Health “LactMed” resource provides detailed drug-specific data accessible for both patients and practitioners.
If you do experience side effects as a result of taking Zoloft—they may include dizziness, head tremors or general disorientation—consult your doctor before discontinuing use/looking at alternative treatments.
So there you have it: by all accounts, Zoloft is safe to take while nursing. But remember that everyone's situation is different—which means you should always consult with your healthcare provider However in most cases this widely available antidepressant shouldn't interfere significantly into the successful translation from mother’s milk into growing healthy babies!
Take care out there moms!
1) Schaefer 2008; 2) Gartlehner2015); 3) O'mahen et al (2010);4 ) Starkstein.(2019).