Contraindication to Breastfeeding
There are conditions that the general public incorrectly believes
are incompatible with breastfeeding. Contrary to popular belief, the
following are not contraindicated. Mothers with hepatitis, including
Hepatitis B surface antigen-positive, Hepatitis C virus antibody, and
Hepatitis C virus RNA positive blood can all breastfeed. In mothers
who are seropositive with cytomegalovirus (CMV), the benefits of
breastfeeding outweigh the risks of transmission.
Some women may have detectable levels of chemical pollutants in
their breast milk, but there are no laboratory guidelines to detect
abnormal levels. Breast milk is not routinely tested for environmental
contaminants. Mothers who have been exposed to low-level
environmental chemical agents (like phthalates) should breastfeed
because the benefits outweigh the risks.
Moms who are tobacco smokers can breastfeed. However, any
smoking mother, regardless of feeding method, should make every
effort to quit smoking. Mothers who smoke should not smoke in the
house or around the baby and wash their hands, face, and clothes
prior to picking up a baby.and wash their hands, face, and clothes
prior to picking up a baby.
Breastfeeding moms can drink alcohol in moderation. According
to the AAP, alcohol is a medication that is usually compatible with
breastfeeding, but excessive or regular drinking should be avoided.
Alcohol is rapidly absorbed and cleared from milk. However, it can
alter the taste of milk and inhibit milk production temporarily.
Mothers should wait about two to three hours after drinking one
alcoholic beverage before breastfeeding. If you drink enough alcohol
to feel intoxicated, wait even longer before nursing the baby. Pumping
will not remove alcohol from the milk, but if you are uncomfortable
while waiting to breastfeed, you can pump until comfort.
Some mothers with fevers are worried that they should not
breastfeed. Fevers can be caused by infections or mastitis (a breast
infection). If you have caught a contagious infection, your baby is
already at risk for transmission. They will benefit from the antibodies
in your breast milk to help protect against the infection that you are
carrying. If it is a breast infection, your baby nursing may help to
clear the infection.
Finally, babies with jaundice can breastfeed. This condition is
also known as hyperbilirubinemia. It is important to listen to your
pediatrician as they may recommend specific feeding techniques or
formula in addition to your breast milk
True contraindications to breastfeeding are infants with classic
galactosemia (known as Galactose 1-phosphate uridyltransferase
deficiency) because they are unable to digest breast milk. American
mothers who are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
should not breastfeed due to the risk of HIV transmission to the
infant. Finally, certain medications are contraindicated in
breastfeeding. Unfortunately, many healthcare providers are not
educated in safe medications for lactation and err on the side of
caution. Dr. Hale’s Infant Risk website and hotline provide an
excellent resource to assure that the medications you are taking are
safe for breastfeeding.
You may not breastfeed due to choice, medical contraindication,
or inability to produce enough supply. That is not something that
should be cause for guilt or conflict. It is important to support one
another’s choices. Most parents are doing what is best for their babies
and families. There are other healthy options to feed your baby.