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Multiple Sclerosis and Breastfeeding

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

In the past, women with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) have been discouraged from breastfeeding due to the medications that they have to take.

What is MS?

It is a disease that is unfortunately still mostly unknown---but causes are thought to be a combination of both environmental and genetic factors. The symptoms are caused by the immune systems response to environmental and infectious factors. Many symptoms are derived within the central nervous system (CNS) causing inflammation and pain.

There is no cure, however, there has been many treatments available to control symptoms. Each treatment is unique and some medications work better for some types of the disease than others. However, because of this variety, the banning of breastfeeding is being called into question.

Quite a few of the medications have been known to pass into the breastmilk when breastfeeding, causing exposure to the drug in the growing baby. Because of this, the practice has overall been to discourage breastfeeding. New evidence has reported that the blanket banning of breastfeeding in women receiving treatment may not be necessary.

Many doctors are overly conservative when advising women with MS to restart treatment soon after birth. This causes a large mount of infants to miss the beneficial effects of breastfeeding.

Many women in the reproductive age tend to have milder forms of MS and therefore treatment directly after birth may not be fully necessary. Many can safely breastfeed off medication for the period she chooses.

Unfortunately, this may not be the reality for some women.

Another fact to remember is that not all medications can pass into the breastmilk, especially a few days after birth when the passageway between cells closes and passive transport is no longer an option. There are indeed breastfeeding compatible medications. If you are a women who is looking to breastfeed but are on MS medications, discuss with your doctor the molecule size, because this will decide whether the medication can enter the breastmilk. Larger molecules will not be able to pass into breastmilk in amounts that can effect your baby in any way.

If you have any questions about specific medications, feel free to discuss them with your doctor and see how you can manage your symptoms while also breastfeeding.

If you have any questions, contact us at Mamas Maternal Health, we would be more than happy to help you figure out how you can meet your nutrition and breastfeeding goals!

Until next time!

Mikayla and Cassie

Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors


Photo by kevin liang on Unsplash

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