Breastfeeding and The Use of Methadone

Methadone, Drug Treatment
A Dose of Methadone. Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Methadone is a narcotic medication that is most commonly given to those who are in treatment for drug addiction. If you take methadone, discuss your desire to breastfeed with your doctor. Your doctor will determine if you can breastfeed based on your HIV status, your dedication to the treatment program and follow-up care, and whether or not you remain drug-free.

Methadone is given in monitored doses.

As long as you are getting your methadone prescribed from an approved treatment program, it may be safe to breastfeed and/or pump your breast milk to give to your child. Since methadone passes to your baby through your breast milk, take your dose of methadone immediately after you breastfeed or pump, not before. This way, the level of medication in your breast milk will have time to decrease by the time you are ready to pump or nurse again.

If you were on heroin or methadone while you were pregnant, your newborn may need to spend some time in the hospital for monitoring. While growing in your uterus, your baby was exposed to the drugs that you took. Once your baby is born, he or she may have severe withdrawal symptoms that can include sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, shakiness, irritability, poor nursing, and fever. If you are now in treatment and can breastfeed, the small amount of methadone in your breast milk may help your child to wean off of the drugs and possibly lessen some of these symptoms.

Warning: Breastfeeding on methadone is only safe if your doctor is aware of your situation and you take your medication as prescribed. If you are abusing methadone or using methadone from a source outside of an approved treatment program, the amount and quality of the drug cannot be monitored. Therefore, it is no longer considered safe and you should not breastfeed or give your child any breast milk that you pump.




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Sachs, H. C., Frattarelli, D. A., Galinkin, J. L., Green, T. P., Johnson, T., Neville, K., Paul, I.M., and Van den Anker, J. The Transfer of Drugs and Therapeutics Into Human Breast Milk: An Update on Selected Topics. 2013. Pediatrics; 132(3): e796-e809:

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