Medical Tests and Medicines: Beware of Breastfeeding Booby Traps

February 4th, 2013 by Dionna | 4 Comments
Posted in Breastfeeding/Lactivism, Compassionate Advocacy, Feed with Love and Respect, natural parenting

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Code Name: Mama - Medical Tests: Beware of Breastfeeding Booby Traps

My doctor recently ordered a CT scan to figure out whether some nodules in and around my thyroid are cancerous. When I called the medical imaging facility to schedule the CT scan, I asked about what would be in the IV and how it would affect my breastfeeding relationship.

While the tech could not tell me exactly what was in the medicine they would inject me with, she gave me the brand name: Isovue-370. Isovue-370 is a contrast agent that contains iodine. It is injected to allow the radiologist to see non-bony tissues and organs more clearly in the CT scan.1

The tech said that their facility recommends breastfeeding moms pump and dump for 48 hours following a CT scan.

48 hours. Two days of not nursing my baby who has never taken a bottle in her life? Two days of not nursing my co-sleeping, boob-loving baby? I could not believe it.

I called my friend, a lactation consultant, and asked if she would check her copy of Hale’s Medications and Mothers’ Milk: A Manual of Lactational Pharmacology. What she found reassured me: Isovue-370 is a level 3 medication, generally considered “probably safe” for breastfeeding mothers (“There have been no controlled studies in breastfeeding women; however, the riskof untoward effects to a breastfed infant is possible, or controlled studies only show minimal non-threatening adverse effects.”). Most reassuring?

The American Association of Radiologists does not recommend any cessation of breastfeeding after a mother receives a normal dose of Isovue-370 for a CT scan.


You can read more about the use of radioisotopes and other imaging agents at, but the consensus is the same – there was no reason for me to pump and dump at all after my CT scan.

The majority of doctors, techs and other medical professionals do not receive continuing education on breastfeeding at all, much less on the potential effects of medications on breastfeeding. Heck, there is one story of a doctor recommending that a mother pump and dump after taking Reglan he had prescribed for GI issues. The irony is that mothers are prescribed Reglan to increase breastmilk supply. It normally benefits breastfeeding!

Mothers have to do their own research.

“It is not uncommon to see doctors using the Physicians Desk Reference for information on medications and nursing. This reference contains the package inserts from the pharmaceutical manufacturers. Almost across the board, they indicate that the medication should not be taken while pregnant or breastfeeding. The warning statements they use are designed to protect themselves from lawsuits.”2

Code Name: Mama -  Medical Tests: Beware of Breastfeeding Booby Traps

If possible, do not interrupt your breastfeeding relationship by abstaining from breastfeeding and/or pumping and dumping without first consulting a lactation consultant.

If you need to undergo any kind of medical testing (x-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, CT scans, etc.) or take any kind of medication during your breastfeeding relationship, please do not solely rely only on the advice of the doctor who ordered the test or the tech who will perform it. Consult a lactation consultant, and specifically ask her to check Hale’s. Hale’s Manual is the most research-driven, current source of information on medications and breastfeeding.

Additional Resources

You may also find more relevant information by calling the Infantrisk hotline (806)-352-2519

Can I Breastfeed If . . . ?

LactMed Database

Finding good information about medication use during lactation

Use of Radioisotopes (and other imaging agents) During Lactation

Breastfeeding and Thyroid Problems: Diagnostic Testing & Treatments

Breastfeeding and Thyroid Problems: Links

Breastfeeding and Thyroid Problems: Studies and References

Breastfeeding and Thyroid Problems: FAQ

Selected List of Medications approved by the AAP for use in breastfeeding mothers (AAP list revised 8/04)

What Are the Booby Traps?


Photo Credit: pengrin

Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with your health care provider. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are taking any medication, please consult your physician. Nothing you read here should be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis or courses of treatment.

4 Responses to:
"Medical Tests and Medicines: Beware of Breastfeeding Booby Traps"

  1. Jeanette   JeanetteIBCLC

    Thanks for this post! So important because: moms *do* need to find alternate sources of information besides the PDR. Another good source is the Infant Risk Center, which is open to moms and can be reached at (806)-352-2519.

    And because it is example of the experience of navigating the health care system throughout birth, breastfeeding, and parenting. Moms need evidence-based information so that we can make informed choices, but often get an opinion positioned as fact. Thank you for helping moms find good sources of breastfeeding information!

  2. Mercedes

    I went through a similar experience at 6 weeks postpartum when I had to have a lymph node removed under my right arm. I saw 2 surgeons, who told me I’d have to pump and dump. After consulting with my ob/gyn, the pediatrician, an anaesthesiologist and lactation consultant, they all said it would be fine to continue to BF, only light anaesthesia. When I got to the hospital, I told any and everyone that I breastfeed. I reminded surgeon and anesthesiologist. Then a random nurse overheard and told me it was safer to discard milk for 48 hours and that she was going “above the dr’s head”. Then the nurse giving the discharge papers also said no bfing for 48 hours. By the time I left everyone knew “don’t try to tell the lady she can’t breastfeed her twins”! It was ridiculous and if I hadn’t done the research beforehand I would have just gone along with it.

  3. Shannon @ GrowingSlower   growingslower

    This is an excellent example of the importance of carefully protecting your breastfeeding relationship and always doing your own research. Thanks for linking up with the Tuesday Baby Link Up! I hope you’ll join us again this week!

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