Breastfeeding Myths: Medication and Maternal Illness

There are many circumstances in which women are advised to wean simply because of misinformation. Perhaps the most common is when the mother needs to take medication. There are many factors that determine whether a certain medication will harm her breastfeeding baby. Unlike the placenta, which absorbs everything in the mother’s blood system, only certain things can enter the mother’s milk. In most cases, if the medication does pass into the milk, the amount is too negligible to have any affect on the baby. If a medication is truly contraindicated, the doctor may be able to find a similar medication that is more compatible or a way to schedule breastfeeding so that the baby doesn’t nurse while the medication is at its peak. There are several excellent resources dealing with medication and mother’s milk. Unfortunately not all doctors are aware of them. If you are told to wean because you must take medicine, get a second opinion. A lactation consultant can be a huge help in finding the right information and informing your doctor. She will also help you go back to breastfeeding if you must stop temporarily.

Can my baby catch my illness through breastfeeding?

Mothers are often told not to breastfeed their babies when they are ill for fear of the baby catching the mother's illness through her milk. Not only is it extremely rare that a mother’s milk will make the baby sick, the baby is protected from her illness through her breastmilk, which contains specific antibodies against it. No matter how you feed your baby, he will be exposed to your illness. By breastfeeding him, you are giving him the tools to fight it. According to research, a mother should not breastfeed if she has human t-cell lymphotropic virus types I and II and active tuberculosis which hasn’t been treated. There are differing opinions regarding HIV/Aids. Mothers with HIV/Aids should research the various opinions and options.
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