Prescription Drug Abuse in Nursing Moms

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Breastfeeding is an incredible time period for both mother and baby. The benefits of breastfeeding are irrefutable and include increased immune support and protection for the child, opportunities for mother and baby to bond, decreasing the risk of asthma and allergies in the baby, and lowering the chances that a baby will develop respiratory infections, ear infections, or gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea.

In addition to the known health benefits of breastfeeding, there are also many practical reasons why mothers choose to nurse their babies. Breastfeeding can help save money on the cost of formula. Choosing to breastfeed is also the safer and natural option for the baby, and there is less room for error in preparing bottles of formula to feed baby.

Drugs Passed to Nursing Babies

Mothers who breastfeed may commonly think that because their baby is not longer within their body, as with pregnancy, that they are able to consume and ingest anything they want without risk to the baby. The reality is however, that a mother is still passing on nutrients and substances to her baby through her milk, so it is important to evaluate any type of substances that are being taken that could potentially be harmful to the breastfeeding baby.
Prescription drugs that were approved for use during pregnancy are typically also safe to continue taking during breastfeeding as well. However, during your time of breastfeeding, which can vary in length, your doctor may prescribe a new medication to you for various purposes.

Ask for Doctor’s Guidance

Mom kissing babyBe sure to let your physician know that you are breastfeeding your baby and ask about the safety and effectiveness of the drug while nursing. Medications that are not safe for breastfeeding mothers should be avoided completely, and doctors can help you find a suitable option that is safe for you and your nursing baby.

If at any point during the time you are breastfeeding, you have found yourself struggling with prescription drug abuse, be sure to reach out for professional help immediately. You are not only endangering your life but the life of your baby as well.

If you have ever taken a prescription and are unsure about the safety of that drug for your nursing baby, consider skipping a feeding session to allow the drug to safely pass through your body without potentially transferring to your baby.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

How can a mother who is taking medication ensure she is protecting her nursing baby?

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions and co-occurring disorders.  These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.  We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors.  If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.  

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 29th, 2015
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