Most everyone agrees that breastfeeding for infants is much better than most other sources of milk. This is mostly because it is a natural source of nutrients that come from the body of a mother unlike most other milk sources that have been processed and may already contain chemicals not naturally found in regular milk. However, this also means that the health of a mother that is breastfeeding has an effect on the milk they produce. This means that whatever goes into the body can go into the milk a mother produces which in turn can be passed on to a breastfeeding infant. So as mothers, we need to make sure of the things we eat and the medications we take will not have an adverse effect on our breastfeeding infant.
What Is Aspirin?
Aspirin is a common western medication used to treat pain, fever or inflammation. It’s an over the counter drug and most Westerners are used to taking aspirin to relieve them of common sicknesses and ailments. This is why most breastfeeding mothers don’t think there is any issue with taking aspirin while breastfeeding. However, studies show that once absorbed by the body, any kind of medication a mother takes can easily enter their breast milk. This is why it is very important to consult a doctor about the medication we are taking as this may have an adverse effect on a mother’s breast milk. Aspirin is no different.
Regular doses of aspirin may easily enter the blood stream and into the milk that a mother produces which in turn can be passed on to their children. Most doctors would agree that aspirin should be avoided for breastfeeding mothers even in low doses can cause the breast milk to act like an antiplatelet drug for a child causing their blood not to clot easily which can be dangerous for infants. If a low-dose of aspirin is ingested, it is suggested that the mother does not breastfeed for a couple of hours until the medication is completely absorbed in the body and the chemical production in the breast milk is reduced.
After aspirin is ingested, salicylic acid is excreted into breast milk. Higher doses of aspirin have shown higher levels of salicylic acid and higher milk levels. Adverse effects on infants who have ingested such milk include metabolic acidosis. Metabolic Acidosis happens when the balance of acids and bases in our bodies gets thrown off. This means the chemical reactions that make the body function is unable to work properly and may cause severe problems with your organs functioning or even be life-threatening especially for infants and young children.
Reye’s syndrome has also been found associated with the ingestion of breast milk with high doses of salicylate. Reye’s syndrome is a disease that mostly affects young children between 6 to 12 years of age. The disease can lead to brain swelling, liver damage, and even death if not treated carefully. Experts are not quite sure of the cause of this disease but it has been linked to aspirin usage of infants and young children. By ingesting aspirin while pregnant or breastfeeding, you are indirectly feeding your children aspirin which can increase the chances of getting Reye’s syndrome.
Further studies have shown that infants who have been exposed to breast milk with aspirin have developed Thrombocytopenia, fever, anorexia and petechiae. This has caused infants to be underweight and malnourished despite being fed regularly. Breastfeeding mothers who stopped taking aspirin showed an improvement in the health of their infant children as they started to gain back the lost weight.
There are many more cases that show that aspirin usage and other medications can get into a mother’s milk and affect the health and growth of their infant children. While aspirin in of itself is pretty harmless and is in fact very beneficial in helping you overcome minor sicknesses such as fever and pain, it is never advisable if you are breastfeeding. Instead of aspirin, why not use more natural home remedies for minor sicknesses. In this day and age, you can never too be too careful as we never know the kinds of medication and chemicals that enter our body or the body of our infant children. If unsure whether something we take is safe, always consult a doctor first.
How to use aspirin safely?
As a breastfeeding mother, we have to be very careful with the things we take and eat as we do not want to pass on anything harmful to our own children. Should you need to take medication like aspirin while breastfeeding, please make sure to do the following first:
- If you are experiencing any sickness or pain, do not self-medicate. There are many medications out there that are over the counter and are really easy to get. However, most of those medications do not consider breastfeeding mothers so always, always consult your doctor. Your doctor will know what would be the best medication to take for any sickness or pain you may be experiencing that is also safe for your infant if you are breastfeeding.
- Watch your diet. Again, this may be a good time to get a consultation from your doctor what are the best foods that you can take to make sure your breastmilk is safe and healthy for your child. Your doctor may even recommend a nutritionist for you. It is best to consult with them what kinds of food to eat while breastfeeding.
As you can see, mothers need to make sure that they are always healthy. We have to watch what we eat and what medications we take as the healthiness of our breast milk is dependent on how healthy we are as well. What’s most important is that despite these tips, we have to always make sure to visit the doctor and have ourselves and our infants checked regularly and make sure we follow the doctor’s instructions strictly and carefully. Avoid any medication especially aspirin while breastfeeding that is not prescribed by your doctor and make sure you keep a healthy lifestyle. How to make your breastmilk fattier and healthier is completely up to you.
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Also published on Medium.