In the last few decades we have relied on the amazing resource of Motherisk, funded by The Hospital for Sick Kids. The website and helpline could be accessed 24/7 and was the go-to for both expecting & new parents as well as many health professionals. The most up to date information on the safety of medications & supplements in pregnancy and breastfeeding could be accessed around the clock. From which over the counter cold medications, prescription medications, vitamins, foods, and teas could all be checked.
Why is this important?
When looking at the label of a medication or supplement, it will routinely be written to consult a doctor before using if pregnant or breastfeeding. This label doesn’t mean that the product is necessarily unsafe. It means that the testing of the product varies in the type of classification on study type and risk level. For the general public, accessing the information necessary to decide if the product is safe can be challenging to sort through and understand what the information means to them.
The database of Motherisk organized this information with the most up-to-date studys and was incredibly user friendly. This resource was also helpful for doctors & midwives to sort through the thousands of products on the market.
Is there another resource available?
We have quickly found the next best thing. Although not a Canadian database, we have three suggestions below in order of ease to use:
This database is the most similar to what us Toronto folk are use to. This website has both a search function and a chatline to connect with a human to answer your questions. This is also the resource that SickKids is suggesting to use with the closure of Motherisk.
Dr. Thomas Hale from Texas Health Sciences Center started the resource many years ago. Free just like the other resources, and has access to both pregnancy and breastfeeding safety.
This resource is the least user friendly as there are a lot of studies to read through, and keywords that may not be easy to understand without a medical background. As the name suggests, this resource is only for breastmilk safety.
What to Know
Check in with your doctor/midwife about the supplements, over-the-counter and prescription medications you are taking when trying to conceive, pregnant or feeding your baby breastmilk. Should you be seeing a specialist other than your obstretician, like a cardiologist for example, always remind them of the above. Your cardiologist may not be as familiar of safety of medications during this life stage, and will likely want you to also consult with your OB.
These are all the topics you would discuss with your Doula to be fully informed of the options available to you.
Let’s start focusing on all the tools that are available to laboring moms and stop placing judgement on those tools or the moms who decide to use them.