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Continuing to work down the list of frequently asked questions and adding information from Breastfeeding and Medication 2018
If you are a professional or a volunteer frequently encountering questions from mothers or other members of the family maybe you would like to treat yourself to a copy!
The ear drops I am asked about most frequently asked about are OTOMIZE and LOCORTEN VIOFORM but this fact sheet contains many others. Hope it puts everyone’s mind at rest. I remember a consultant many years ago telling a mother she couldn’t breastfeed for 2 weeks after using anti inflammatory ear drops. Unless she was going to drip excess out of the ear canal onto her nipples I could see no logic for this. I hope things have moved on but the patient information leaflet still causes concern.
I’m trying to build fact sheets on the drugs I am most frequently asked about. One that comes up frequently is propranolol to prevent migraines, to relieve anxiety and to remove symptoms of over active thyroid. Propranoolol can be used by breastfeeding mothers so long as they are not asthmatic.
Lots of people seem to be interested in using CBD oil for chronic pain and/ or for anxiety. Sadly there is no research on the amount that passes through into breastmilk so I am unable to say whether it is safe for a breastfeeding mother to take or not at this time
The development of anaesthetic data was prompted at least in part by the questions from mothers are diagnosis, treatment and surgery for gallstones whilst pregnant. Women are more likely than men to have gallstones and they are more common after the birth of several children so unsurprisingly this frequently covers breastfeeding mothers.
So here are my thoughts and a fact sheet on the topic
On a daily basis mothers are being told that they have to stop breastfeeding if they have a general anaesthetic. No consideration seems to be given to the risks of not breastfeeding it feels, nor that women breastfeed as normal after a caesarian section (although I admit this is less common than under a spinal block). There is no evidence in any of the papers I have found that says anything other than that a lactating woman can resume feeding as soon as she is awake and alert following the operation. If she is drowsy she needs to consider the risks of co sleeping.
I have drawn up a table from the recommendations in the 2 expert sources Lactmed and Hale in the safety of the commonly used drugs for anaesthesia and post operative pain relief. I hope this helps mothers and professionals to work together to protect, promote and support breastfeeding as long as mother and baby wish.
Hoping this helps some of the difficulties experienced by mothers who are already stressed at the idea of needing surgery.
It seems form social media that many babies are now being diagnosed and treated for reflux (GORD). Before labelling a baby as having a medical condition it is often useful to seek input from a breastfeeding expert and consideration of the position the baby is in after a breastfeed. Not all babies who throw up need treatment!
This fact sheet covers the medication used to treat reflux and GORD in babies and the preparation of PPI drugs for babies
Sadly our family has recently experienced the tragedy of an ectopic pregnancy and the loss of a very brief dream. This has made me much more aware of the incidence and risk of this condition over and above the post I wrote in April. So some more facts – as my friend commented today I hate to waste any opportunity to educate!
Ectopic pregnancy is a common, occasionally life-threatening condition, that affects 1 in 80 pregnancies. An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. Symptoms usually develop between the 4th and 12th weeks of pregnancy. Women with an ectopic pregnancy may still be breastfeeding and wish to continue which can be supported.
- Ongoing bleeding that is sometimes red or brown/black and watery (like “prune juice”) should be investigated. The bleeding may be heavier or lighter than usual, but pregnancy test is still positive
- One-sided pain in your tummy which may be persistent or intermittent or a generalised discomfort with bloating and a feeling of fullness (not associated with eating) when lying down.
- Shoulder tip pain which is often described as pain unlike any you have ever experienced before. (Ectopic Pregnancy Trust)
Your GP will refer you urgently to the early pregnancy unit at your local hospital. You may have your Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG levels) measured over a period of several days. If you are having a normal pregnancy these should double approximately every 48 hours. A smaller increase can indicate a risk of of this being an ectopic pregnancy but this will be confirmed with ultrasound scans, initially across your tummy. It is likely that a transvaginal (internal) ultrasound scan will be required where a specialised probe is placed into the vagina to get a more detailed look at the reproductive organs.
Unfortunately, if it is confirmed over a period that you have an ectopic pregnancy it is not possible to save the pregnancy and it must be removed either by surgery or the use of methotrexate. The cells have not been able to be nourished and can never develop into the baby you thought you were expecting which can be hard to deal with.
Rupture of ectopic pregnancy
In a few cases, an ectopic pregnancy can grow large enough to split open the fallopian tube. This is known as a rupture which can be very serious, and surgery needs to be carried out as soon as possible.
Signs of a rupture include a combination of:
- a sharp, sudden and intense pain in your tummy
- feeling very dizzy or fainting
- feeling sick
- looking very pale (NHS Choices)
Methotrexate and breastfeeding
Mothers who are currently breastfeeding an older child can continue 24 hours after the methotrexate is administered.
“It is apparent that the concentration of methotrexate in human milk is minimal, although due to the toxicity of this agent and the unknown effects on rapidly developing neonatal gastrointestinal cells, it is probably wise to pump and discard the mother’s milk for a minimum of 24 hours post dose if given as a single dose (e.g. 50 mg/m2 IM for ectopic pregnancy)” (Hale 2018).
Infant Monitoring: Should patient resume breastfeeding more than 24 hours after the last dose of maternal therapy, monitor the infant for vomiting, diarrhoea, blood in the vomit, stool or urine. Lab work could be drawn if clinical signs of liver or renal dysfunction, anaemia, thrombocytopenia or an inability to fight infection.
Lactmed reports a study of one mother who was given a single intramuscular dose of 65 mg (50 mg/square meter) of methotrexate for ectopic pregnancy. Six milk samples were obtained from 1 to 24 hours after the dose. Methotrexate was undetectable (<22.7 mcg/L) in all milk samples (Tanaka 2009). In some 20% of cases more than one cycle of methotrexate is required to expel the products of conception. For each cycle breastfeeding should be avoided for 24 hours.
Hale quotes a milk plasma ratio of > 0.08 and relative infant dose of 0.13% – 0.95%. Peak serum concentrations appear 30-60 minutes after intra muscular dose (Jones 2018). Pharmacokinetic data is very variable as there in considerable inter individual variation (Martindale 2017).
For more information on methotrexate administration, side effects and monitoring see www.ectopic.org.uk/patients/treatment/
Ectopic pregnancy and breastfeeding fact sheetBreastfeeding after surgery
After surgery breastfeeding can continue as normal as soon as you are awake and alert. If your nursling is unable to stay in hospital with you, you may need to express to avoid engorgement/blocked duct and to maintain your supply. Your expressed milk can be given to your baby at home. There is no need to pump and dump.
Sadly dreams dont always come true and babies are lost during pregnancy. If that happens and you are still breastfeeding a toddler do you have to stop? Lots of information here I wrote for www.essentialparent.com. Extracts taken from Why Mothers Medication Matters
It seems that many more women with chronic illnesses are having babies and breastfeeding. I have
included a chapter in the second edition of Breastfeeding and Medication on this. This fact sheet on lupus and hydroxychloroquine whilst breastfeeding is taken from the book, due to be published May 2018