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Radiology Exam and Postoperative/Post-Sedation Breastfeeding: Internal Initiatives and Information Documents

Nathalie Gagnon

CISSS de l’Outaouais, Gatineau Hospital, Gatineau, QC


Background: During breastfeeding, tests and procedures requiring contrast media, anesthetics and analgesics may be prescribed. Too often, the tendency is still to tell women they have to pump and throw away their milk, even though this is rarely necessary. In addition, the information being provided is generally inconsistent between departments or healthcare professionals.

Objectives: Review the literature on drugs used in radiology, examination room or operating room in breastfeeding context. Develop a protocol or procedure. Provide written information.

Methods: An internet search was conducted for such documents, but nothing was found. Phone calls to other CISSS, including those holding a “Baby Friendly Initiative” accreditation, were done; none of them had a protocol or procedure in place. Reference books, literature reviews and specialized databases were consulted.

Results: The use of these drugs in these contexts is a one-time event. They are rapidly eliminated from the plasma compartment, the amount likely to pass into the milk is generally very low with an unlikely digestive absorption in the infant. A resumption of breastfeeding is possible as soon as the patient is in a stable state and has regained a level of alertness authorizing her to stand up.

Conclusions: The procedure “Radiology exam in breastfeeding patient” has been in place since January 2017, while the medical protocol “Postoperative/post-sedation breastfeeding” has been in force since November 2018. The drugs involved are compatible with breastfeeding. The challenge is to widely disseminate these initiatives for the benefit of lactating patients and the children they breastfeed.