Small Doses of Vicodin OK for Breast-Feeding Moms, Study Says

Filed under: In The News, Breast-Feeding, Research Reveals

vicodin breast-feeding

Breast-feeding pain may be eased by small doses of Vicodin, a new study shows. Credit: Getty

Breast-feeding may be a healthy and economical way to feed and bond with your baby, but it also can be a real pain -- literally -- for some moms who are still cramping and sore from mega hours of labor and C-sections, not to mention the whole nipple pinching thing.

But now there's good news on the lactating front: Apparently, it's safe to pop a few Vicodin while you're breast-feeding.

The strong painkiller hydrocodone, better known as Vicodin, may be safe in smaller doses for women nursing newborns, U.S. researchers tell Reuters.

Only traces of the drug end up in the mother's breast milk, according to findings from a study out of the University of Toronto and the University of California San Diego. Researchers say in cases where weaker painkillers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) don't take care of the pain, up to 30 milligrams of Vicodin (six tablets of 5 milligrams each) might be acceptable, the news service reports.

The findings, published in the March journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, give more options to nursing moms who previously were advised by experts to use over-the-counter painkillers, according to Reuters.

But if moms opt for the more powerful painkiller, they should stick to the prescribed dose, "not take the drugs more than two to three days and see the doctor immediately if their baby is unusually sleepy or not sucking properly," Dr. Shinya Ito of the University of Toronto, who was not involved in the new study, tells Reuters.

Some experts, however, say the findings could be misleading and nursing moms should not reach for the powerful painkillers.

Dr. Gideon Koren, who heads The Hospital for Sick Children's Motherisk Program in Toronto, tells Reuters the trace number could be misleading because a newborn keeps the drugs in his body longer than older babies and children do.

"These numbers cannot replace looking at the baby, and these numbers are not reassuring," he tells the news service.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.