Suboxone and Breastfeeding

A mother breastfeeding a baby

If you or a loved one are on Suboxone and happen to have a newborn child, then you might be wondering what the implications of breastfeeding while taking this medication could be. Suboxone is a drug that’s used for opioid maintenance therapy, and it’s important to understand how these drugs influence can impact your breast milk if you’re feeding a baby.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a drug that’s prescribed for people who are trying to get over an addiction to illegal opioids. These drugs typically cause users to develop an unsustainable lifestyle that is reliant, or at least involves, unethical activities like lying and stealing. These activities make it very difficult for the user to maintain a regular job or an education, and can make it hard to develop or sustain friendships, romantic or even family relationships.

Suboxone, or other opioid maintenance drugs, allow users to get a regulated dose of a long-lasting opioid so they can develop a regular lifestyle. People using these maintenance drugs can see a doctor once a day, which eliminates the need to spend hours contacting dealers or acquiring finances for illegal drugs.

The active ingredient in Suboxone is buprenorphine, which is a long lasting and highly potent opioid.

Is it safe to take Suboxone when breastfeeding?

When you take any drug, it is absorbed by your body and travels through your organs via your circulatory system. It is excreted through your urine, through your blood, and through your breast milk.

If you want your baby to become addicted to a very addictive drug at a young age, then you will have no qualms feeding them breast milk while taking Suboxone. It’s certainly true that the dosage that makes it into your baby’s body through your breast milk will be significantly less than that which you take, but its presence is undeniable.

Babies are much more sensitive to drugs than adults because their bodies are still developing. This means that they are much more at risk to develop dependencies and addictions.

If it’s absolutely impossible for you to stop taking Suboxone before pregnancy or before breastfeeding a child, then it’s possible your baby will develop a dependency to the drug. There are programs available that can help treat your baby after the breastfeeding period and ease them through the withdrawal process.

Feeding a baby with a bottle

Buprenorphine also tends to suppress breastfeeding ability. Women who have undergone c-section surgeries and were given buprenorphine post-surgery for pain took part in a study with their infants. The infants who were being fed by mothers who were taking buprenorphine were shown to have less intake of milk as well as slower, less healthier weight gain. This is likely because buprenorphine increases serum prolactin.

Furthermore, babies that were born to mothers taking Suboxone during pregnancy showed signs of withdrawal upon being born. The amount of buprenorphine that was present in the breast milk of others was not sufficient to eliminate withdrawal symptoms, which suggests that the drug is delivered much more effectively via the blood to the unborn fetus. That doesn’t mean that the amount of buprenorphine is too small to affect a child that hasn’t developed a tolerance from gestating in the womb of a mother who is using buprenorphine, though.

Generally, studies done on parents who were taking buprenorphine at the time of breastfeeding have revealed that opioid-dependent mothers are much less likely to breastfeed their infants.

In conclusion

Buprenorphine is a highly potent, long-lasting opioid narcotic. Any drug that a mother takes will be present in her breast milk, and this means that breastfeeding a baby while taking buprenorphine will lead to the baby ingesting the drug.

Will the amount of buprenorphine present in breast milk is much less than that found in the blood, it’s still enough to be a risk factor. Opioid-dependent mothers should not breast feed their babies.