Breastfeeding & Drug Misuse

When you are breast feeding, it’s important to remember that many different things that you eat and drink can pass from your body into your breast milk. It is therefore imperative you are careful about what you consume whilst breastfeeding. You should always check with your pharmacist and doctor before you take any prescribed or over the counter medicines.

You should never use recreational drugs whilst breastfeeding as the substances can easily pass through your breast milk putting your baby at risk. Drugs such as cocaine are very toxic and you should therefore refrain from breastfeeding for at least 48 hours if you have been using cocaine.

Mothers who misuse substances and who have been prescribed methadone should feel encouraged to breastfeed the same as other mothers as long as their drug taking is stable and their baby is gradually weaned with professional help.

Below is a list of recreational drugs and their effects on breastfeeding and the infant.

Amphetamine (Speed/Whizz)

Amphetamine concentrates in breast milk and although the long term affects are unknown, it causes the baby irritability and disturbed sleep.

Cocaine

Cocaine is excreted into the breast milk and straight to the baby. Again the long term affects are unknown, although it is known to cause the baby vomiting, diarrhoea and seizures.

Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)

Pseudephedrine is excreted into the breast milk in small amounts. It causes the baby irritability and disturbed sleep.

MDMA (Ecstasy)

The long term effects are unknown although it has been proved to cause irritability for the baby.

Methyl-amphetamine (Ice/Crystal)

Methyl-amphetamine can cause the baby irritability. The long term effects are unknown.

Benzo-diazepines (diazepam, oxaxepam, flunitrazepam)

Benzo-diazepine is excreted into the milk in small amounts although it has the potential to accumulate in the baby. It can cause sedation and poor feeding when used in high or prolonged doses.

Cannabis (marijuana, grass, dope, weed, pot hemp)

Breastfeeding whilst taking cannabis is considered unsafe as it can accumulate in the baby’s fatty tissue. It is also important to avoid smoking cannabis in the baby’s presence as it can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Heroin

Heroin is excreted into the breast milk in small amounts. It can cause vomiting, tremor, poor feeding.

Volatile Substances (petrol, glue, aerosol cans, butane gas)

Breastfeeding should not occur whilst you are intoxicated. Most volatile substances have short half lives.

LSD (Trips/Acid)

Unfortunately little is known about the effects of LSD during breastfeeding. LSD is radpidly distributed around the body when orally taken. It is always recommended that breastfeeding is avoided due to the potency of even a low dose.

PSP Phencyclidine (Angel Dust, GBH, Peace Pill)

As PSP is stored in the fatty tissue, it can accumulate and concentrate in the breast milk. Breastfeeding is therefore not recommended.

HIV

A HIV positive mother should also never breastfeed as the HIV virus can be passed to her baby through her breast milk.