Drugs In Breastmilk – Is It Safe?

There is no substitute for nature, nature is the best. Breast Milk is the gift of God and best ever choice for your babies as it helps them to grow healthy and strong along with many numerous benefits for both mother and baby. 

This milk has the perfect balance of sugar, fat, proteins, hormones and vitamins which support your baby in growth and development. It’s inexpensive, hygienic and easily digestible than any infant formula. Feeding your baby is equally good for mothers as it burns extra calories, reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer, releases oxytocin hormone which aids your uterus to return to its normal size.

Mostly in a normal situation, where the mother delivers a baby and is all set to nurse him/her but many times due to some issues they’re on drugs and medicines. They could be addictive, life-saving or required to use for some time. We can also use herbal lactation supplements to increase milk production too. 

The question is whether they’re safe or not for the baby when transferred in human milk? Yes, almost every drug enters women’s breast milk to some extent and they usually pose no risk or in very small amounts to most newborns. However, it depends on many other factors too, sometimes the medication concentration rises in the milk and could cause a problem too. so let’s see what points to be considered before using any drug:

Molecular Weight:

Without making it complex, simply understand that drugs with higher molecular weight are less likely to absorb in the human milk and medicines with very high molecular weight can’t even pass the milk. Insulin and Heparin are good examples of high molecular weight which don’t pass easily. 

However, many drugs that pass in breast milk may not be an obstacle in nursing the baby. Some other factors like degree of ionization, solubility and protein binding also hinder lesser molecule weight medicines to enter into the milk.

Life of The Drug:

You must be aware of the life span of the drug that will stay active in you as it also determines the amount of transferring of drug in human milk. long pediatric half-lives aren’t at all recommended as they continually accumulate in the baby’s plasma over the time. 

Especially benzodiazepines such as valium are true references. So, therefore, it is advised to choose medicines with shorter half-life, since they penetrate in breast milk at potentially low levels and so the buildup in infants’ plasma is pretty low. Even don’t opt for medicines with active metabolites because it could cause an issue to infants.

Baby Health Conditions:

When a baby is immature, whose internal organs especially the liver and kidney aren’t working at its best, it’ll lead to compromised clearance of the medication from the baby’s system and the drug starts to concentrate. 

It reached its peak levels and doesn’t flush out toxins quickly. Also, when a baby is young, it takes time to metabolize the drugs or alcohol from the system with difficulty. A 6-month-old baby can move out drugs from his/her body more efficiently than when he/she was young.

Medication Transfer:

not all medicines transfer in lactating milk and which transfers are usually safe with less plasma concentration. Maternal medications are sometimes very essential for the women’s health so they’re unavoidable and the benefits reaped are much more, outweighing the risks. If you’re suffering from low milk supply, try some herbal lactation supplements instead of any medicines that deal with how to increase milk supply?

Make Up of The Milk

Usually mothers are exposed to many different drugs and anesthesia at the time of delivery. A newly turn mother who’s in the phase of making colostrum should be extra cautious about transferring of those drugs that binds with fats which are likely to mix with colostrum as this milk is higher in fat content and is dense, secondly your baby has just born and is his body is weak and immature.

Can we Breastfeed and Take Medicines Side by Side?

A simple answer to this query is that it all depends on the medicine needs and requirements. Most of the medicines are safe for both mother and baby and so you can consume them without any guilt or worry. Some prescribed medicines and consumption of alcohol can cause problems but by simply adjusting its time, alternative chemical formula and short half-life can make them safer. 

Your doctor could recommend the timings about when the drug concentration levels peaks and when it becomes low in milk. Unfortunately, many times you have to either quit breastfeeding or the medicine because they can’t go along.  

If your medication intake is for a temporary or occasional basis, you can stop feeding your child which will give a dip in your milk supply and nursing mothers get worried about how to increase milk supply? you must invest in a good electric pump to pump and dump the milk till you’re on medications to keep your breasts stimulated and maintain supply of milk. 

If you’re on life saving drugs that can contradict with the baby’s system, which is rare though, wean off with the help of a lactation consultant and ask for a good infant formula.

Safe Medicines While Breastfeeding:

There are few listed medicines and their chemicals which are safe and can be consumed at any time during breastfeeding. they’re pain relievers like Ibuprofen, naproxen, antimicrobial medications like Fluconazole, penicillin’s, cephalosporins, Antihistamines like Loratadine, Fexofenadine, decongests like Sudafed, Zyrtec-D which have pseudoephedrine in it. 

You can use herbal lactation supplements to enhance milk supply and to avoid chemical-based medicines which have their own downsides.

Side Effects:

When you’re on certain medicines, you need to be vigilant enough about any reactions occurring on the baby. You may observe changes in the baby’s health like diarrhea, constipation, disrupted eating and sleep patterns, fussiness, rashes or maybe some other. 

If you observe any of these for a prolonged time period, don’t ignore them, reach out to your pediatrician consultant or GP as soon as possible for proper consultations. Mothers must be guided well when advised with medicines and what is good for them and the babies.

Final words

Many drugs are safe but some aren’t! it all depends on what is essential at that time, mother health or lactation. Your doctor is the best one to rely on because he/she can assess the whole scenario very well and can advise you the best.

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