By: Gabrielle Hathaway M.S., IBCLC
I often see mothers who are taking medication, either during pregnancy, lactation or throughout both. I also see mothers who have decided not to take their regular medication because they are concerned about the effect on their baby. There is more and more research and information available about medications in pregnancy or lactation and I urge women to talk with their doctor about their choices. As a lactation consultant, I have access to studies and guidelines that your physician may not be aware of and can supply information for my clients to take to their doctor. It pains me to see mothers denying their own mental or physical health needs in order to be the best mom for their baby. A happy, healthy mom is the best mom!
What to do if you are taking medication and find out you are pregnant:
· Talk with your OB or midwife right away about your choices
· Make sure you have added support if you are going to forego medication
· Watch for a recurrence of symptoms; talk with your doctor again if you are concerned about your health
· Do NOT rule out breastfeeding! Surprisingly, some meds that are contraindicated during pregnancy are deemed safe during lactation (and vise versa). Often the amount the baby receives is very slight or the medication is not well absorbed orally. Still, consult your doctor or lactation consultant well before you deliver, so that you can make a plan that works for you. Sometimes mental health issues that were controlled during pregnancy can change in the postpartum period, due to a change in hormones. Thyroid disorders can also worsen after delivery and should be followed closely.
What about those “other” drugs?
If you are struggling with substance abuse, smoking, or alcohol, please don’t be afraid to talk with your provider. There are options during and after pregnancy that can help to increase the likelihood of a healthy baby (and healthy mom). Pregnancy is a perfect time to make changes toward a better life for you and your baby.
Here are some resources for information about medications during pregnancy and lactation:
Brigham and Women’s Hospital -
Mass General Hospital -http://www.womensmentalhealth.org/
The Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech - http://www.infantrisk.com/
National Institutes of Health - http://health.nih.gov/topic/PregnancyandSubstanceAbuse
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