Oxycodone While Breastfeeding: What You Need to Know

Can You Take Oxycodone While Breastfeeding?

When you’re pregnant, taking opioids can significantly increase the risk of serious birth defects in an unborn baby. Following delivery, if a mother used opioids during her pregnancy, the baby may be born addicted to the drugs. If a baby is born addicted to opioids, neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) may occur. This is essentially withdrawal, and it typically requires specialized care in the NICU. While the risks of using opioids are fairly well-documented during pregnancy, what about while breastfeeding? Specifically, is oxycodone safe to take while breastfeeding? The answer is probably not, but there’s more to it than that.

Oxycodone is a generic opioid, prescribed to treat pain that’s characterized as moderate to severe. Opioids are also referred to as narcotics, and these drugs affect the central nervous system. When someone uses oxycodone, it binds to opioid receptors throughout the central nervous system (CNS). This changes how pain signals are sent to the brain, and it alters the emotional response to pain. Oxycodone also slows the overall functionality of the CNS, including breathing. The slowdown of the CNS is why someone who uses opioids may seem drowsy, clumsy or as if they’re slurring. If someone takes a dose of oxycodone or any opioid that’s too high, they may have severe or deadly respiratory depression. Oxycodone is intended only to be used as short-term pain medicine. As with other opioids, oxycodone is very addictive and physical dependence can form as well. Side effects of oxycodone may include constipation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, itchiness, and sweating. Symptoms of an oxycodone overdose include not only respiratory depression but also low blood pressure and a slowed heart rate. Oxycontin is a brand-name version of oxycodone.

There are quite a few reasons that oxycodone and Oxycontin aren’t considered to be safe while breastfeeding. If a doctor prescribes a woman oxycodone or another opioid pain medication while breastfeeding, it’s because the benefits of the medication are greater than the potential risks. Even so, many doctors are moving towards trying to avoid prescribing opioids when possible, because of the devastation of the opioid epidemic and how addictive these drugs are.

Oxycodone While Breastfeeding: What You Need to Know

If a breastfeeding woman uses oxycodone, it can cause serious effects for the baby. Opioids like oxycodone and brand-name OxyContin can pass through the breastmilk and go to a nursing baby. Effects on the baby can include respiratory depression and sedation. The effects of opioids on a nursing baby can be especially profound if the baby was born pre-term or is very young. If a breastfeeding mother is prescribed oxycodone or OxyContin for any reason, she should look for certain symptoms in the baby. For example, if the baby seems sleepier than usual, it can be a red flag. Limpness, trouble breathing, constipation and problems with suckling or feeding should all be reported to a healthcare provider immediately. If a doctor does prescribe oxycodone or Oxycontin and you’re breastfeeding, make sure that you’re only taking the recommended dosage and following all instructions. It’s possible that if oxycodone or OxyContin is used while breastfeeding, it can result in death for the baby. This is especially true when a mother takes very high doses and recreationally abuses opioids.

Along with the direct effects of oxycodone on a breastfeeding baby, there are other potential risks of using it. Oxycodone and Oxycontin can cause euphoria, impairment, drowsiness, and sedation in the mother. These can all make it difficult for a mom to take care of her baby. The baby may be at risk if the mother is impaired or drowsy from the use of a narcotic pain medicine.

There are many alternatives to taking oxycodone or Oxycontin while breastfeeding. If your doctor prescribes you one of these medicines, you may want to ask if non-opioid alternatives are available instead. For example, many over-the-counter pain relievers can be effective, and they are considered safe during breastfeeding. OTC pain relievers that are likely to have fewer side effects include acetaminophen and NSAIDs like ibuprofen. In fact, ibuprofen is usually the preferred pain reliever for nursing mothers. There are very few OTC pain medicines that are considered to be unsafe during breastfeeding, so it’s a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider about opioid alternatives.

If you’re a breastfeeding mother and you feel like you’re addicted to oxycodone or dependent upon it, it’s best to seek professional addiction treatment. Addiction to opioids like oxycodone is a psychological disease. The brain is compelled to continue using opioids despite the harmful effects. Dependence on oxycodone or Oxycontin is a physical condition. When you’re dependent upon opioids and stop them suddenly, you’re likely to experience withdrawal. Opioid withdrawal can be difficult to manage, and often requires a professional detox program.

If you’d like more information about addiction treatment, recovery, and relapse prevention, our team is here now and can speak to you.

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