Can You Take Oxycodone While Breastfeeding?

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For nursing mothers, taking medication for pain management is one of the most difficult decisions to make. Finding a balance between treating yourself and caring for your baby’s health is critical.

Oxycodone is an opioid prescribed as a treatment for severe pain, but many women are uncertain if it is safe to take while breastfeeding. It’s important to seek out the information you need to make an informed decision about using oxycodone while breastfeeding and understand how it may affect both you and your baby when used over time.

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How is Oxycodone Used?

Oxycodone, a powerful opioid medication, has gained significant attention in medicine due to its efficacy in alleviating moderate to severe pain. Often prescribed as a post-surgery or injury analgesic, it functions by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, which consequently obstructs the transmission of pain signals. While oxycodone’s effectiveness has been widely acknowledged, its potential for dependency and abuse must not be overlooked. If you are taking this medication, you must be closely monitored by healthcare professionals to ensure safe and responsible usage.

If you are using oxycodone or another opioid and are pregnant or breastfeeding and find you cannot control your substance use, it is vital to seek qualified help like that offered at Guardian Recovery. We will work with you to develop an individualized and effective program to help you recover from addiction and get you started on the road to long-term recovery. We believe in the benefits of a full curriculum of clinical care, beginning with medical detoxification, transitioning into a higher level of treatment, and concluding with personalized aftercare planning. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options in your area.

Can You Breastfeed Infants While Taking Oxycodone?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends mothers avoid taking oxycodone while breastfeeding, as it can be excreted into breast milk. Because infants are still developing their central nervous systems, they may experience extreme sedation, difficulty breathing, or even seizures if exposed to oxycodone through breast milk.

There is evidence that prolonged use of this medication may impair cognitive activity in children, so caution should be taken before using oxycodone while nursing.

If your healthcare provider has prescribed you oxycodone while breastfeeding, additional steps must be taken to ensure your health and that of your baby. As a precaution, you may need to pump and discard your breast milk while taking the medication. Doing so will minimize the amount of oxycodone passed on to your baby through breast milk.

Should All Opioids be Avoided While Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is crucial for you and your baby, providing vital nutrients for the infant’s growth and development. As a mother, it is essential to be knowledgeable about the possible impact of medications, such as oxycodone, on the breastfeeding process.

Of all medication classes, opioids are the most troubling because traces of the drug are transferred to the breast milk, making their way into your infant’s system. Your newborn’s body may not have fully developed the ability to break down and eliminate the drug, potentially leading to adverse effects such as excessive sleepiness, difficulty breathing, or even life-threatening complications.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that opioids should only be used if absolutely necessary for pain management in breastfeeding mothers and urges caution when using them.

If you are considering taking opioids while breastfeeding, it is essential to closely monitor both your infant’s health and your own responses to the drug. If you or your baby experience side effects at any time, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Additionally, never share or mix medications without consulting with a doctor first.

What Effects Does Oxycodone Have on a Baby?

While physicians sometimes prescribe oxycodone to breastfeeding mothers, the long-term effects of oxycodone exposure on this vulnerable population are still being studied. When used during this period, oxycodone can expose your nursing infant to potentially dangerous side effects such as drowsiness, difficulty breathing, agitation, or even life-threatening complications. In some instances, oxycodone can cause opioid withdrawal symptoms in the child, including tremors, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Nursing moms taking oxycodone should be sure to evaluate any possible side effects with their healthcare provider and take steps to reduce oxycodone exposure if their baby begins to show any signs of distress.

Possible Long-term Effects of Oxycodone on Infant Development

While there is limited research available on the long-term effects of oxycodone exposure on the developing infant, preliminary studies suggest that opioid use during breastfeeding may have a negative impact on the baby’s physical and cognitive development. Research indicates that infants exposed to opioids in breast milk exhibit poorer performance on tests measuring motor skills and cognitive ability. Long-term oxycodone exposure could lead to developmental delays or behavioral issues as the child grows older.

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Which Painkillers Are Safe to Use While Breastfeeding?

If you’re experiencing pain while breastfeeding, several non-opioid medications may be effective in providing temporary relief from mild to moderate pain. When considering which medications to take while nursing, weighing the risks and benefits of each option is essential. Non-opioid painkillers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) can be safely used by breastfeeding mothers as long as they are taken in prescribed doses.

Other alternatives include NSAIDs such as naproxen (Aleve), topical treatments such as capsaicin cream, or natural remedies like peppermint oil or ginger tea. You may also wish to explore acupuncture, massage therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (or TENS), or physical therapy. They all come with different levels of success and safety, so consulting your medical professional first is incredibly important before trying any of these methods.

How Long Can Painkillers Last in Breastmilk?

The length of time that a painkiller remains in breastmilk varies depending on the type of drug, the dosage taken, and the frequency of use. Generally speaking, opioids and other painkillers tend to be detectable in breast milk for two to three days after a single dose. However, if you need to take opioids or other painkillers long-term while nursing, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider about the safest way to do so.

Dosage & Frequency of Oxycodone While Pregnant

If your doctor prescribes oxycodone while you are nursing, the dose should be kept at the lowest adequate level and taken only as needed. The National Institutes of Health recommend a daily limit of 30mg of oxycodone while breastfeeding. As with all medications, the timing of each dose should be spread out as much as possible to minimize any potential side effects in the infant. The dosing frequency will depend on factors such as body weight and medical history.

Risks of Oxycodone Withdrawal in Infants

One potential risk of opioid use while breastfeeding is the development of opioid withdrawal symptoms in the infant. Newborns exposed to opioids may experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, trembling, difficulty sleeping and breathing problems. Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) is seldom treated with additional medication. Instead, infants are comforted through swaddling, skin-to-skin time, and exposure to minimal stimulation to calm them.

Consult with your Physician Before Taking Oxycodone While Breastfeeding

While oxycodone may provide much-needed relief from chronic pain or post-surgery discomfort, it is crucial to be well-informed about potential risks and side effects, especially if breastfeeding. As a knowledgeable confidant, your physician can help assess the balance between the benefits and risks of taking oxycodone during this critical time.

Since oxycodone can pass through breast milk and impact your baby, consulting your doctor ensures you have a thorough understanding of how it may affect your little one’s health and development. A personalized medical evaluation will help determine whether the medication is the best course of action, considering factors like your baby’s age, weight, and overall health. Engaging in thoughtful discussions with your healthcare provider will equip you with the information and confidence needed to make well-informed decisions regarding using oxycodone while breastfeeding, ultimately safeguarding your and your baby’s health and well-being.

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Ultimately, taking oxycodone while breastfeeding should be done cautiously, only after consulting a healthcare provider and thoroughly understanding its risks and benefits. If you have a dependence on oxycodone or another substance, the best way to overcome addiction is with the help of experienced, trusted professionals like those at Guardian Recovery. We provide comprehensive treatment, including medically-assisted detox, therapy, specialty programs, and reintegration support. Our caring and skilled administrative, medical, and clinical teams will guide you through every step of your recovery process from the first time you call. We provide a complimentary assessment and a free insurance benefits check and help coordinate local travel to our facility. All you have to do is ask; we will take care of the rest. Contact us today.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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