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Raynaud’s phenomenon affects up to 10% of otherwise healthy women aged 21-50 years of age. It is 9 times more common in women than men.
Yet many doctors are unaware that Raynaud’s can affect breastfeeding. It produces deep pain after feeds with a mother often automatically covering her nipples or massaging them to restore the blood flow. Symptoms are often mis-diagnosed as thrush when in fact the use of fluconazole can make the symptoms worse by causing further vasoconstriction.
Most mothers who experience problems with Raynaud’s during breastfeeding, have a history of cold hands and feet or a close relative who has. It may be that in a family it is routine to wear thick socks and gloves, maybe a vest without realising that they may be “unusual” in their response to the cold.
Babies of mothers with Raynaud’s may be born early and / or smaller because of restriction of blood flow to the placenta. It is not uncommon for there to be a maternal (or close family) history of migraines.
Symptoms which differentiate Raynaud’s phenomenon with other causes of breast pain are:
- Pain in both breasts after feeds
- Pain which may be precipitated by being cold or for example going down the freezer aisle in a supermarket
- Rapid 3 colour change in the nipples after feeds
- Pain that is resolved by warmth or gentle massage
- A history or close family history of poor circulation
Treatment of Raynaud’s during breastfeeding
- Don’t ignore the fact that pain after breastfeeds may be due to less than perfect attachment of the baby at the breast. A white tip to the nipple after feeds is not the same as the tri colour change typical of Raynaud’s
- Nifedipine 30mg a day (either as 10mg three times a day or long acting 30mg once daily. The amount in breastmilk is too small to affect babies although it may give the mother hot flushes and / or headaches. The following extract is taken from Breastfeeding and Medication 2nd Ed to be published May 2018
- High doses of vitamin B6 (Newman 2012), magnesium (Smith 1960, Turlapaty Leppert1994), calcium (DiGiacomo 1989), fatty acids (Belch 1985) and fish oil supplementation (DiGiacomo 1989) have also been suggested but take a minimum of 6 weeks to be effective. Ginger 2000mg-4000mg daily. Capsules usually contain 500mg. It may also be beneficial to add ginger to your diet, to drink ginger tea, or to put a spoonful of ground ginger in your bathing water (Royal Free hospital www.royalfree.nhs.uk/pip_admin/docs/Raynaudsnatural_186.pdf)
Nifedipine relaxes vascular smooth muscle and dilates coronary and peripheral arteries. It has activity in reducing blood pressure and in the treatment of Reynaud’s syndrome
Nifedipine is almost completely absorbed from the GI tract but undergoes extensive first-pass metabolism. It is up to 98% bound to plasma proteins. It is used to treat hypertension (Penny and Lewis 1989; Ehrenkranz et al. 1989) and also to improve circulation in Reynaud’s disease (cold extremities and nipple vasospasm) in doses up to 30 mg daily (Lawlor-Smith and Lawlor-Smith 1996; Garrison 2002; Anderson et al. 2004). Side effects for the mother include flushing and headache, which may limit its usefulness. It is present in breastmilk but in levels too small to be harmful and there have been no reports of adverse effects in babies (see Chapter 5).
In Taddio et al’s study (1996) of 21 women taking 40 mg daily the babies were estimated to be exposed to 0.1% of the maternal weight adjusted dose via breastmilk. Nifedipine is widely used to treat pre-eclampsia and eclampsia in the mother together with methyldopa or a beta blocker. Ehrenkranz et al. (1989) studied one woman who took 10, 20 or 30 mg three times daily on different days. Using the maximum dose transferred by the 30 mg regimen, the authors estimated that the baby would be exposed to the authors estimated that an exclusively breastfed infant would receive an estimated maximum of 7.5 µg per kilogramme of nifedipine daily. Its relative infant dose is quoted as 2.3–3.4% (Hale 2017 online access).
The BNF reports that the amount secreted into breastmilk is too small to be harmful but that manufacturer advises it should be avoided.
Compatible with breastfeeding.
- Anderson JE, Held N, Wright K, Raynaud’s phenomenon of the nipple: a treatable cause of painful breastfeeding, Pediatrics, 2004;113(4):e360–4.
- Ehrenkranz RA, Ackerman BA, Hulse JD, Nifedipine transfer into human milk, J Pediatr, 1989;114:478–80.
- Garrison CP, Nipple vasospasm, Raynaud’s syndrome, and nifedipine, J Hum Lact, 2002;18(4):382–5.
- Lawlor-Smith LS, Lawlor-Smith CL, Raynaud’s phenomenon of the nipple: a preventable cause of breastfeeding failure?, Med J Aust, 1996;166:448. Letter.
- Penny WJ, Lewis MJ, Nifedipine is excreted in human milk, Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 1989;36:427–8.
- Taddio A; Oskamp M; Ito S; Bryan H; Farine D; Ryan D; Koren G,. Is nifedipine use during labour and breastfeeding safe for the neonate?, Clin Invest Med, 1996;19(4 Suppl.):S11. Abstract.
It is some time since I had time to post / blog . However, it’s a new year with new resolutions and new committment. The first news is that there is a new edidition of my book Breastfeeding and Medication due out on 1 May.
This new edition contains information on more drugs and a chapter on the management of some chronic conditions which may affect breastfeeding mothers. In most cases there are options to support the mother’ optimal care whilst allowing her to continue to breastfeed her baby as long as she wishes. This is a topic which raises many questions on social media which informed the choice of conditions to consider.
It’s available to pre-order now on Amazon now – make it your new year’s resolution to buy to support breastfeeding mothers and to inform pescribing decisions
delighted to have had the opportunity to record a webinar tonight with Kathleen Kendall-Tackett tonight on the importance of dads and grandmas to the breastfeeding mum . You can catch up still https://praeclaruspress.givezooks.com/events/webinar-the-importance-of-dads-and-grandmas-to-breastfe
just done my technical check for the Webinar on the importance of dads and grandmas to the breastfeedng mum to be broadcast next Thursday 6-7.30pm UK time Come join me $15 https://praeclaruspress.givezooks.com/events/webinar-the-importance-of-dads-and-grandmas-to-breastfe
feel very privileged to have recorded with Marie Biancuzzo for Born to be Breastfed tonight talking about The impotrtance of Dads and Grandmas to the Breastfeeding Mother. Will let you know when it is due to be broadcast. http://borntobebreastfed.com/
Too many breastfeeding women suffer symptoms of anxiety and depression and dont seek treatment because’
- they are ashamed
- they are frightened they may be seen as not a good enough mother and at risk of having their baby taken into care
- because healthcare professionals may not support ongoing breastfeeding
- they are worried that medication passing through milk may affect their baby
- they just find asking for help too hard
Our mental health varies every day and within every day – we move up and down just like a petrol guage. And that is normal. Every day thousands of mothers are worried, anxious, depressed and tired. We need to support them and admit that we can all be affected at some time in our lives.
Support Heads Together www.headstogether.org.uk/about-heads-together/ and check the information sheets for drugs which can be used by breastfeeding mothers with depression www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/wp-content/dibm/anti-depressants-oct14.pdf anxiety www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/wp-content/dibm/anxiety%20and%20breastfeeding.pdf and bi-polar www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/wp-content/dibm/Bipolar%20fact%20sheet.pdf
or email me firstname.lastname@example.org for information
Fathers and grandmothers of the baby may be the first to notice that a mother may not be her normal cheery self. Dont ignore it, talk about it as a family, help the special mum in your life get help whether it be medication or talking therapy. Life with a newborn is a precious time, be honest about feelings as you will not be alone. Dads can also feel depressed and anxious – you dont have to pretend to be strong.
Let’s talk about mental health and make it normal – then we can move forward stronger www.headstogether.org.uk/about-heads-together/
71% of 500 women who responded to a PHE study, think breastfeeding will limit the medication which can be taken! So lots of work for me still to do then. Could professionals buy a copy of Breastfeeding and Medication to reassure women?
Statements like this on the NHS site arent going to help – more about manufacturer protecting themselves? Not taking risks? Could be better worded as it just isnt true. Breastfeeding mothers with depression get treated every day and their babies are fine!
“Breastfeeding: As a precaution, the use of antidepressants if you’re breastfeeding isn’t usually recommended. However, there are circumstances when both the benefits of treatment for depression (or other mental health conditions) and the benefits of breastfeeding your baby outweigh the potential risks. If you’re treated with antidepressants when breastfeeding, then paroxetine or sertraline is normally recommended.”
The Start for life page https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/breastfeedingto which the chat box https://www.messenger.com/t/Start4LifeBreastFeedingFriend/ links identifies the BfN Drugs in breastmilk helpine which I run as a resource. But they dont fund it – it is run on a voluntary basis and they didnt ask permission to see if I can deal with additional work. But I will keep doing my best to support mothers who need medication whilst breastfeeding
” Almost three-quarters of women in England start breastfeeding after giving birth but less than half are still doing so two months later, according to NHS and Public Health England data.
PHE recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, as does the World Health Organisation, because it boosts a baby’s ability to fight illness and infection. But a comparison of initial breastfeeding rates and those after six to eight weeks in the final quarter of 2015 found that they were 40% lower for the latter (44% compared with 73%).
A survey of 500 mothers commissioned by PHE found that fears about breastfeeding among women included that it could be painful (74%), prevent them taking medication (71%) and be embarrassing in front of strangers (63%).
The PHE’s chief nurse, Viv Bennett, said: “We can all help women feel comfortable breastfeeding their baby wherever they are. Creating a wider culture of encouragement and support will help make a mother’s experience all the more positive.”
PHE has launched an interactive breastfeeding friend chatbot, accessed through Facebook messenger, to provide personal support for breastfeeding 24 hours a day. Bennett said it would help women through the “crucial” initial period, after which things generally became easier.
A study published in the Lancet last year found the UK had the lowest rate of breastfeeding in the world, with only one in 200 women breastfeeding their children after they reach their first birthday.
The WHO recommends that breastfeeding form part of a baby’s diet up to two years of age. As well as reducing the likelihood of babies getting diarrhoea and respiratory infections, breastfeeding also lowers a mother’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer and burns about 500 calories a day.
The results, published on Thursday, suggested high-profile figures who promote breastfeeding can have a positive influence on other mothers. Just under half of respondents said the example of household names such as The Only Way is Essex star Sam Faiers, broadcaster Fearne Cotton and actor Blake Lively, who have recently championed breastfeeding on social media, had inspired them to do so themselves. About two-thirds (64%) said they felt more confident to breastfeed in public because of celebrity mums.
Other concerns raised by more than half of women were not being able to tell if their baby was getting enough or too much milk and that it could potentially place restrictions on the mother.
Jacque Gerrard, the director for England at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Any initiative that goes towards helping mothers start and sustain breastfeeding for longer is positive as we know the health benefits from being breastfed last a lifetime.”
If you see breastfeeding mothers who need medication maybe you need to buy this book
Pharmacists can access evidence based training for free Pharmaceutical care of breastfeeding mothers rather than read material which is non evidence based and developed by the formula industry New infant feeding training online
Pharmacists can be as guilty as doctors in being influenced by the companies and inadvertently pass on negative messages about breastfeeding as described in this article Education and training of healthcare staff in the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to work effectively with breastfeeding women: a systematic review
There are days when I despair at the information provided by my fellow professionals about infant feeding. Come on guys do some CPD on supporting breastfeeding mothers – it is a health issue and can save the NHS millions of pounds a year let alone morbidity and mortality of mothers and children.
Breastfeeding is a natural ‘safety net’ against the worst effects of poverty … Exclusive breastfeeding goes a long way toward cancelling out the health difference between being born into poverty and being born into affluence … It is almost as if breastfeeding takes the infant out of poverty for those first few months in order to give the child a fairer start in life and compensate for the injustice of the world into which it was born.
JAMES P. GRANT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF UNICEF (1980-1995)