If you are pregnant and subscribed methadone, breastfeeding is still an option. Many women have no clue that they can breastfeed while they are on methadone. It will not harm your baby and is actually recommended by doctors. Does that mean others will agree if you decide to breastfeed? Not at all. Be prepared for the stigma that surrounds breastfeeding and methadone from people’s own personal opinions. Just know, it is safe and I am here to reassure you.
When I found out I could still breastfeed, I was all for it. There are numerous reasons why breastfeeding is recommended for all mothers, including mothers prescribed methadone.
The problem was my family’s opinion. Specifically, my mother and fathers. My parents were set on the fact that I was willingly given my baby narcotic drugs. Simply, because it is transferred through the breast milk.
I explained to my mother exactly what my prenatal care doctor told me. A mother that is prescribed methadone is encouraged to breastfeed her child. Not only encouraged, it is recommended a mother should be breastfeeding on methadone.
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) conducts numerous studies that verify breastfeeding on methadone. There are numerous reasons why breastfeeding is recommended including the mothers that are safely taking methadone.
Let me begin by saying my mother was right about one thing. Methadone will transfer through the mother’s breast milk to her baby. Your baby will receive methadone when feeding. What my mother couldn’t comprehend was that the baby receiving my methadone this way was good.
Yes, it’s a good thing. My doctor explained that if you take methadone while pregnant, chances are high that your baby will withdrawal from the methadone and have to detox after he is born. The withdrawal process can actually be done faster and help the baby feel more comfortable by receiving that tiny amount of methadone that transfers through the breast milk. An average baby ingests 0.05 mg of methadone daily through breast milk. The baby was receiving much more when he was still inside of his mother’s belly throughout the pregnancy. That is not much methadone at all but, it’s enough to help ease the withdrawal process.
Crazy, huh? Yet, it is true.
Still, my mother was against my choice of breastfeeding on methadone. Do you know what decision I made? I breastfed my baby. He was in the NICU for not even 2 weeks. Healthy and happy, he came home with no problems at all.
I made the right decision. Now, my mother sees that it did not cause my baby any harm.
I would have breastfed my daughter who is older. The fact was simply, I didn’t know I could. Once I discovered breastfeeding on methadone was recommended, I knew that I would breastfeed.
There are numerous reasons to breastfeed your baby.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
There are so many reasons you, as a mother should breastfeed your child. The benefits of breastfeeding are as follows.
colostrum is the milk substance that a mother’s body produces in the first days after giving birth. It is so good for your baby. It’s comparable to your baby getting their first immunization. It’s thicker than breast milk, sticky, creamy, and yellowish in color. It is high in protein, low in fat and sugars, high in minerals, carbohydrates, vitamins, and antibodies. If you decide you do not like breastfeeding. It is still a plus if you let your baby suck the colostrum out of you for the first days of his life.
NAS or Neonatal Assistance Syndrome obviously deals with the methadone too. Simply, babies of mothers breastfeeding on methadone have less severe NAS, less frequent, or may not even experience it at all. This is due to the methadone transfer in breast milk.
Breastfeeding creates a special bond between mother and child. A mother and child share a bond, to begin with, nursing simply strengthens it. Your baby relies on you for everything. Now, you are your baby’s nourishment as well. Your baby will be calm and content being in your arms and knowing he just has to find the nipple to eat.
Besides the colostrum, breastfeeding is healthy for your baby. He or she will get all the essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and so on through breast milk. Do not use any illegal drugs or other substances while breastfeeding. By reading this, you know that the mother transfers substances in her body to her baby through her breast milk including drugs, nicotine from cigarettes, and any medication a mother takes.
Chances are if you breastfeed, your baby will not be overweight. Formula fed babies tend to be overweight and not breastfed babies. Studies have proven that this remains relevant throughout the child’s life.
If you aren’t sure whether or not you should breastfeed. Think of your baby. Not yourself. Breastfeeding is valuable and beneficial to your child. So far, the ONLY reason doctors tell you not to breastfeed is if you have AIDS or are HIV positive which brings me to the last topic.
Breastfeeding and Hepatitis C
Now you know that breastfeeding on methadone is safe but, what if you have Hepatitis C? Let’s be honest, if you were an IV heroin user then chances are you probably have Hep C. Most heroin addicts do. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you get clean and sober, your hepatitis C can be treated.
If a mother is positive for Hepatitis C, her baby can possibly contract Hepatitis C as well. Although chances are slim, there is still a chance. Your baby can not be tested for Hep C until he or she is 18 moths old. At that time, your child will get blood drawn and tested.
A mother can still breastfeed if she has Hepatitis C. A baby will NOT contract Hep C through breastfeeding. As previously stated, the ONLY reason a mother is discouraged from breastfeeding is if she has AIDS or is HIV positive.
It is clear that breastfeeding is a safe and viable option for mothers prescribed methadone. Ultimately, the decision is yours. If you do not feel comfortable breastfeeding, then don’t. The decision is yours. Do what you feel is right for you and your baby. Just remember, being on methadone will not harm your baby, breastfeeding is still recommended.