Breastfeeding and Suboxone


New mothers know just how important breastfeeding is for the health of their babies. However, there are occasionally times when breastfeeding is too difficult to continue or is actually dangerous to the health of the newborn. Mothers who are taking Suboxone may wonder if this drug necessitates them giving up this healthful habit.

Suboxone may be prescribed to mothers who are trying to overcome opioid addictions. This drug has been found to work quite well in reducing withdrawal symptoms and physical cravings, and it often produces long-term abstinence from illicit opioids. However, Suboxone itself is an opioid, making many women wonder what it will do to their breastfeeding infants.

All drugs pass into bodily fluids, including urine, blood, and breast milk. Therefore, an infant will receive a dose of Suboxone whenever breastfeeding. The main question is whether this amount is enough to cause concern. The general consensus is that taking Suboxone while pregnant can cause the infant to become dependent on the drug. However, it is far less concerning once the baby has been born and is breastfeeding. Even if some dependence does develop, it can usually be easily treated and produces very mild symptoms.

A 2018 study in the Drugs and Lactation Database published by the United States National Library of Medicine looked directly at the effects of Suboxone on breastfed infants. It used both prospective and retrospective studies to conclude that many infants have breastfed from Suboxone-taking mothers without any ill effects. However, some infants may show slight withdrawal symptoms. In most cases, infants had no withdrawal whatsoever, showing that not enough Suboxone made it into the breastmilk to make a difference.

Of course, these studies may not be enough for some women to feel comfortable breastfeeding while on Suboxone themselves. In these cases, an open and honest discussion between them and their practitioners should be able to set their minds at rest one way or another. While breastfeeding is certainly a worthy goal and comes with many benefits, including mother and infant bonding as well as boosted immune function for the infant, formula feeding is still a viable option for mothers who continue to feel uncomfortable with the idea. Infant formulas sold today are approved by the federal government and must contain a certain amount of each vital nutrient. Therefore, mothers can feel good about either choice they make.

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