In general, it is safe to breastfeed while you are taking your methadone as long as there are no other factors that would make breastfeeding unsafe, such as using illegal drugs or using certain prescription medications. Methadone is found in breast milk, but only a small amount gets passed along to your baby.
There are many benefits to breastfeeding for both you and your baby.
- Breast milk has important nutrients that will help your baby grow and may help prevent infection
- Babies who are breastfed are generally more healthy and don’t have to visit the doctor as often as babies who are fed formula
- Breastfeeding helps you and your baby bond
- Breastfeeding may help your baby cope with withdrawal symptoms
Remember, breastfeeding may not be easy at first. It takes time and (lots of) patience! The first 2 weeks is often the most difficult. Talk to your prenatal provider or the breastfeeding specialist (sometimes called a lactation consultant) at the hospital for tips or other questions.
Although there is no official statement saying you cannot breastfeed if you are taking a certain amount of methadone, some hospitals have their own policies and recommendations. Check with the hospital you plan to deliver at to learn more about this. If you are taking more than this amount and would like to breastfeed, ask to speak with a breastfeeding specialist when you get to the hospital.
How do know if I can breastfeed?
Hepatitis C Positive: You can breastfeed.
The Hep C virus is not found in breast milk. However, if your nipples become cracked or chapped, there is a risk of transmission though your blood. Talk to your prenatal provider about this issue.
HIV Positive: It’s not recommended you breastfeed.
HIV is found in breast milk, so you may put your baby at risk if you breastfeed. If you have not been recently tested for HIV, consider getting tested. Ask your prenatal provider or counselor about how to get tested.
Illegal Drug Use: It’s not recommended you breastfeed.
Over the Counter Drugs, Vitamins, etc: Ask your prenatal provider first.
Some medications, herbs, teas, and vitamin supplements are not safe to use if you want to breastfeed, so make sure you tell your prenatal provider about anything you are taking.
A History of Physical or Sexual Abuse: It’s your choice.
Some women who have been sexually abused may have a difficult time with the idea of breastfeeding and choose not to breastfeed. Women may also decide to pump breast milk then bottle feed with the breast milk.
If you’ve decided to breastfeed, do not stop suddenly. Your baby is used to having even a small amount of methadone and may experience withdrawals if they are not weaned off. When you wean your baby off breastfeeding and start solid foods or formula, they are also weaned off methadone.
Breastfeeding is a personal choice. Not every woman decides it is right for her. If you choose not to breastfeed, talk to your prenatal provider about alternatives to breastfeeding.
Talk to other women about their experiences with breastfeeding. Some moms, especially first-time moms, have mixed feelings about it. It’s often helpful to talk about your fears and hear stories from other women.