How Drugs Affect Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is advocated for new mothers for a number of reasons. While breast milk has been proven to have benefits, new mothers have to take caution as the things that they consume can be passed to the baby through their breast milk. It is generally recommended that women completely avoid the use of any types of drugs while breastfeeding for the health of their babies. It is important that nursing mothers know the facts about drugs and breastfeeding.
It is known that most drugs can pass into human milk, and that the drugs must pass through your bloodstream before appearing in breast milk. Some medications can be taken and will not harm the baby however the issue of drug safety and lactation can be very complicated. There are many things that nursing mothers must take into consideration. Drugs are administered in different manners and some medications such as topical medications generally reach breast milk in lesser amounts than IV drugs, for instance. The amount of a drug taken will also effect how much of the drug will pass to the breast milk. Other factors include the duration of ingestion of the drug, a baby’s health and age, how often the drug is taken, and the frequency of feedings.
Over the years, as the rates of breastfeeding have increased, so to have the accuracy of different methods that are used to measure drugs in breast milk. This is helping doctors learn what medications will appear in breast milk, even in tiny amounts. Many doctors are hesitant to prescribe any medications to nursing mothers that are known to enter the breast milk.
While prescription and over the counter medications can be taken if deemed safe by a doctor, nursing mothers should not use recreational drugs such as cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamines, and other substances. Even small doses of some recreational drugs can potentially cause serious health problems for babies. While breastfeeding is recommended by many for its many benefits, anyone abusing illegal drugs should refrain from breastfeeding and should seek the help of a qualified medical professional.
Anyone seeking information on the dangers of drug use while breastfeeding or during pregnancy should consult their doctor. The following resources also provide additional information that may be helpful.
- Drugs and Breastfeeding – An in-depth article that explains the possible risks of taking legal medications, and also touches on illegal drug use while breastfeeding.
- Social Drugs and Breastfeeding – A look at the issue of mothers using social drugs while breastfeeding; covers nicotine, alcohol, methadone, and other drugs.
- Breastfeeding and Drug Dependent Women – A copy of the guidelines for breastfeeding and drug dependent women from The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee.
- The Transfer of Drugs and Other Chemicals Into Human Milk – Information from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how drugs and other chemicals can be passed to breast milk.
- Drugs in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding – Some informative resources regarding the topic of drug use in pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
- Prescription Drug Use – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention answers the question of whether mothers who use prescription drugs should breastfeed.
- Breastfeeding and Alcohol – The Mayo Clinic explains of the dangers of consuming alcohol while breastfeeding, and how it can pass to breast milk.
- What About Drinking Alcohol and Breastfeeding? – Information from the La Leche League on the effects of alcohol on breastfeeding.
- Medications and Breastfeeding – An article explaining the dangers of recreational drug use when breastfeeding, and how drugs can be passed to the baby.
- Dealing With Addiction While Pregnant – Information on how pregnant women should deal with their addiction and seek treatment as well as prenatal care.
- Using Illegal Drugs During Pregnancy – An article from the American Pregnancy Association discussing the dangers of abusing drugs during pregnancy.
- Opioid Abuse, Dependence, and Addiction in Pregnancy – Information on the abuse of opioids during pregnancy from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.