**Heather called me frantically at 7am. In the background, I could hear a screaming, incredibly frustrated baby. Heather had been in the emergency room the night before for a sprained ankle and was told to “pump and dump” for 24 hours because she was given pain medication. But her daughter, only a few weeks old, had never had a bottle and was refusing to drink the formula (also completely unfamiliar) put in it. Heather and her partner spent all night trying everything to comfort their hungry, greatly distressed baby. Quickly, I looked up the medication Heather was given and read her the information. As soon as Heather realized the medication was compatible with breastfeeding, she latched her daughter and all was well. Later, in Heather’s frustration, she realized that there was no need for the night of agony spent by her family!
Several times a month I receive similar calls. Sometimes after a day or more of “pumping and dumping,” milk supplies are compromised and babies struggle to go back to the breast. Babies don’t understand when suddenly they are denied a familiar/biological way to obtain nutrients and comfort, and they can become very distressed!
Most medications are compatible with breastfeeding. It is VERY rare to need to pump and dump because a mother needs to take a medication. The risks of using formula often outweigh the risks of exposure to the medication through breastmilk. There may also be safer medications you and your health care provider can consider, and depending on the different properties of the medication, a safer time of the day to take it. The age and health of a baby are also important factors to take into consideration. Please research before making a decision!
The Infant Risk Center has some information online, but also has a hotline you or your health care provider can call for specific information on medication use during pregnancy and lactation. The hotline is available Monday-Friday from 9am-6pm (eastern time zone). They also have a great app called MommyMeds, which may mothers find useful.
LactMed can be a little less user friendly in terms of its information, but it is another reliable source.
If you are a client or wish to become one, you are also welcome to email me and I can send you an information sheet on most medications and their affect on breastfeeding and pregnancy. In more complicated situations, I can research, work with your health care provider, and help you come up with a plan to combine breastfeeding and the use of medications.
**Nurturing Traditions respects patient confidentially and follows HIPPA guidelines. Any names and identifying features used in this blog have been changed to protect privacy.