Today we (finally!) sit down with Part II of our breastfeeding special with Dr. Erin Cleary to cover myths, facts, and advantages of breastfeeding.
There are only three main contraindications to breastfeeding:
1. In infants with galactosemia.
2. In mothers who are HIV+ in high-resource settings.
3. In mothers with human T-cell lymphoma virus.
There are a number of relative contraindications to breastfeeding:
In a mother with Hepatitis A until she receives gamma globulin.
In a mother with Hepatitis B until the infant receives HBIG and HepB vaccine.
In a mother with Hepatitis C if coinfections present, such as HIV.
In a mother with Varicella zoster (Chicken pox) while mother is infectious.
In a mother with Active TB until mother has received 2+ weeks treatment
In a mother with influenza
if the mother has been afebrile without antipyretics for >24 hours, and the mother is able to control her cough and respiratory secretions.
Oseltamivir or Tamiflu is poorly excreted in breastmilk
In patients abusing IV drugs.
In patients using marijuana:
(THC), the main compound in marijuana, is present in human milk up to eight times that of maternal plasma levels, and metabolites are found in infant feces, indicating that THC is absorbed and metabolized by the infant
Several preclinical studies highlight how even low to moderate doses during particular periods of brain development can have profound consequences for brain maturation, potentially leading to long-lasting alterations in cognitive functions and emotional behaviors
Breastfeeding mothers should be counseled to reduce or eliminate their use of marijuana to avoid exposing their infants to this substance and advised of the possible long-term neurobehavioral effects from continued use
Common Breastfeeding Myths/Misconceptions:
You should breastfeed if you have mastitis, emptying the breast prevents stasis of milk
You can breastfeed in setting of acute respiratory, urinary, GU infections, continuation of BF acceptable
You can breastfeed if… You need medical imaging.
XRays do not affect milk
Mammograms may be harder to interpret when a patient is lactating, but this should not be a reason to defer recommended diagnostic imaging
CT/MRI with or without contrast do not impact breastmilk
XRays with contrast dye or imaging with radioactive material are also OK
Exception: thyroid scan using I-131
I-131 concentrates in breastmilk and at high levels can suppress baby’s thyroid function (or even destroy the thyroid) and increase risk of thyroid cancer.
Therefore it is important that breastfeeding be discontinued until breastmilk levels are safe (this depends upon the dose and ranges from 8 days to 106+ days). The half-life for I-131 is 8.1 days.
Hale recommends that when I-131 is used, breastmilk samples should be tested with a gamma (radiation) counter before breastfeeding is resumed to ensure that radiation in the milk has returned to safe levels.
You can breastfeed if… You are pregnant!
Increasing progesterone will decrease supply and cause breast/nipple sensitivity.
Mature milk will be replaced by colostrum in the 2nd trimester.
Tandem feeding includes breastfeeding a newborn and toddler
You can breastfeed if… You’ve had general anesthesia. As soon as you are awake enough to hold the baby, the medication has metabolized and breastfeeding is safe.
You can breastfeed if… You are on maintenance medications such as methadone and buprenorphine
There is a reduction in severity and duration of treatment of NAS when mothers on these medications breastfeed
You can breastfeed if… You have an occasional alcoholic beverage
Alcohol concentration in the blood is in steady state with the milk, so delaying nursing or pumping until more alcohol is metabolized can limit exposure
If direct breastfeeding is interrupted due to temporary separation of mother and child for any reason, the breastfeeding mother should be encouraged and supported to regularly express her milk.
Expression and storage of milk allows the infant to continue to receive milk if appropriate, and prevents stasis of milk and mastitis
In the setting of infection, prior to expressing breast milk, mothers should wash their hands well with soap and water and, if using a pump, follow recommendations for proper cleaning.