Dilaudid Use & Breastfeeding | Concerns & Safety

Opioids are not recommended for nursing mothers because the drug can transfer to breast milk and then to the baby.

Dilaudid is the brand name for hydromorphone, an opioid analgesic medication that’s used to treat moderate to severe pain. It does this by binding to opioid receptors in your brain and changing how your body feels pain.

The medication is also classified as a schedule II controlled substance. This means it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to physical dependence.

While opioids are likely not recommended for nursing mothers because the drug transfers to breast milk and then to the baby, Dilaudid has shown very few signs of affecting the infant.

That said, the mother and healthcare provider should monitor the child. They want to ensure the dose of hydromorphone is low enough to not cause issues with the baby but high enough so that the mother feels relief from postpartum pain.

Dilaudid & Breastfeeding

Dilaudid is used for acute or chronic pain. When it comes to mothers, it can be used for postpartum pain associated with a cesarean (C-section).

Dilaudid does transfer into breast milk when taken by a nursing mother, but studies show that only a very small amount makes it into the milk and feeding infant.

Dilaudid is likely safer than other opioids/opiates like codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, tramadol, and oxycodone.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s harmless. Discussing potential issues with your doctor is important. They can help you find the lowest dose possible.

Adverse Effects

High doses of a narcotic like hydromorphone that are taken while lactating can lead to several side effects in breastfed infants, including:

  • extreme drowsiness
  • sedation
  • difficulty feeding
  • trouble breathing
  • limpness
  • central nervous system depression
  • possible death

Newborns seem particularly sensitive to these effects even when taken in small doses. If you see any of these symptoms in your baby, it’s important to contact your doctor or seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Dilaudid Half-Life

Dilaudid has a half-life of approximately 2-3 hours which means that half the dose should have exited your system in that time. With that half-life, the whole dose should be gone in 4-6 hours, but because of different factors like body mass and age, that’s not always the case.

On average, the drug can take up to 48 hours to exit your system. Your breast milk may be completely safe for your infant after that, but stopping pain medication is not always viable for a lactating woman who has just given birth.

Stopping can be especially difficult when opioids can come with withdrawal symptoms if you’ve taken them for a long period of time.

Breastfeeding & OTC Medications

While an opioid-like Dilaudid may be necessary for some people who need help with pain management, if it can be avoided, there are plenty of over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications that are fine to take while breastfeeding.

Both ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are considered safe for those breastfeeding women.

Side Effects Of Dilaudid

Beyond the effects the pain medicine can have on an infant who is breastfeeding, the drug can also have significant side effects on the breastfeeding mother who is taking the drug.

The side effects typically range from mild to more severe, including severe drowsiness and respiratory depression.

Whether you’re a breastfeeding mother or not, if you’re prescribed Dilaudid, talk to your doctor about having access to naloxone (Narcan). If you overdose on the medication, naloxone can reverse the effects very quickly and give you a chance to seek help.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid abuse or another form of drug addiction, treatment options are available.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is one of the most common forms of opioid therapy. During MAT, a clinician will prescribe a medication that can help ease withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. These medications can include buprenorphine or methadone.

For information on our medication-assisted treatment options, please contact us today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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