Women's reasons for taking complementary medicine products in pregnancy and lactation: Results from a national Australian survey

Publication Name

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice


Background: and purpose: Pregnant and breastfeeding women commonly use complementary medicine products (CMPs), including dietary supplements and herbal medicines. This study investigated women's reasons for use. Materials and methods: A national, cross-sectional, online survey conducted between July–September 2019 investigated reasons for CMP use during pregnancy and lactation. Australian women who were currently pregnant and/or breastfeeding participated. Data analysis included descriptive statistics, Chi-square and principal component analyses. Results: Of the 810 women surveyed (n = 354 pregnant; n = 456 breastfeeding), most reported prior CMP use and felt that CMPs had been beneficial to maintaining and optimising their own and their children's health. However, when ill, they preferred medicines prescribed by doctors or pharmacists. Perceived benefits to their unborn or breastfeeding babies' health and their own health (both cohorts), the health of their pregnancy (pregnant participants), and benefits to the breastfeeding process and breastmilk supply (breastfeeding participants) were important reasons for women's CMP use. Conclusion: Women's reasons for CMP use centred on perceived benefits to their own health and the health of their babies. Women's prior positive experiences with CMP use, combined with preferences for pharmaceutical use when ill, indicates their use of CMPs can be considered complementary, rather than alternative, to biomedical health care.

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Funding Sponsor

University of Sydney



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