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Labor Medications: Oh yes, it affects breastfeeding.

by Laurie Chamberlin CD, ICCE, CLE

‘Will the pain medication I have in labor affect my baby?” asks my client Olivia with curious eyes. I think I know the answer she is hoping for and I don’t think I can give it to her. “Yes” I reply, to which I see a momentary flutter of disappointment cross her face. “Most medication reaches the baby in ten minutes.” At a lactation conference put on by the Breastfeeding Coalition of Placer County, Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC says Fentanyl, a common pain medication used in labor, lasts about 2 hours in the mother and can last up to 13 hours in a baby. Babies should not be breastfed for 4 hours after administration. Often times mothers will receive more than one shot, that stacks up and may take a day or more for it to wear off in the baby.

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