Postpartum women are able to resume using and eating many things that were off-limits during pregnancy. If you’re breastfeeding, however, you may need to exercise caution when it comes to using certain medications and products. That’s because some medications can be transferred through breast milk to your baby.

Doctors aren’t sure if Botox, a prescription medication made from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, can be transferred through breast milk to your baby. The toxins produced by the bacterium cause paralysis. Botulinum toxins are very dangerous, even deadly, when not administered by a trained healthcare provider. As a result, many have a legitimate concern about the safety of Botox while breastfeeding.

Read on to learn about Botox while breastfeeding.

What does research say?

Researchers haven’t studied the effects of Botox on breast milk, and it’s not known if Botox passes into breast milk. Botox is a toxin that paralyzes muscles it’s injected into. The American Academy of Pediatrics, New Jersey Chapter, believes it’s unlikely that the amount of Botox used cosmetically affects breast milk. It’s best to speak with your doctor if you are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed and considering Botox, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.

Can I pump and dump?

“Pumping and dumping” is a method used by women when there is reason to believe that harmful substances are temporarily present in their breast milk. Pumping and dumping involves expressing the milk and then throwing it out instead of giving it to your baby. Pumping and dumping does not remove toxic substances from breast milk. Instead, it reduces chances of engorgement and helps maintain supply as the substance metabolizes out of your blood and milk. You’ll still need to wait for the substance to metabolize out of your breast milk before you resume nursing.

There’s no research on the amount of time it takes for Botox to metabolize out of breast milk, or even if it transfers to breast milk. Unlike alcohol or other drugs, Botox remains in the local tissue for months at a time. As a result, pumping and dumping is likely not an effective solution.

Talk to your doctor before receiving Botox if you’re breastfeeding. There’s no research on how it may affect your breast milk, so you and your doctor may decide to wait until you’re done breastfeeding to get a Botox treatment.

Alternatives to Botox

When administered by a trained healthcare provider, Botox may help relax muscles for medical and cosmetic use. Some uses for Botox include:

  • migraine prevention
  • treatment of muscle stiffness
  • treatment of certain eye muscle issues
  • temporary improvement of wrinkles
  • reduction of underarm sweating

If you decide Botox is not worth the risk when it comes to breastfeeding, there are alternatives.

Alternatives to medical Botox

If you’re using Botox to treat or manage a health condition, such as migraines or muscles stiffness, your doctor can help you identify alternative treatments that are safe while breastfeeding.

Many migraine medications are not safe to use while breastfeeding. Some over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications, like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), may offer some relief. Talk to your doctor about the dosages that are safe during breastfeeding. Changes to diet may also help manage migraines if you have food triggers.

If you’re using Botox for muscle stiffness, massage therapy may help. You may also use OTC medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Certain stretches or exercises may also help.

Learn more: Exercises to relieve temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain »

For these and other conditions, work with your doctor to develop a safe treatment plan while you’re breastfeeding.

Alternatives to cosmetic Botox

One common substitute for Botox is facial acupuncture. Facial acupuncture works by inserting small needles into the surface of the face. Participants in a small-scale study on the effects of facial acupuncture on skin elasticity saw significant improvement. However, research on the efficacy and safety of this treatment is limited.

Read more: Dealing with loose skin after pregnancy »

Staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet may also improve the appearance of your skin. A balanced diet may also help keep your breastfed baby healthy. Vitamins and other nutrients from your diet are transferred from mom to baby through breast milk.


Botox is a treatment used for both medical and cosmetic reasons. The effects of Botox with breastfeeding have not been studied. To play it safe, it’s probably best to wait until you are done with breastfeeding to seek Botox procedures. If waiting is not an option, speak with your doctor about potential complications and alternatives.