Are you struggling with neuropathic pain? Also known as nerve pain, an abnormally heightened sensitivity to stimuli characterizes neuropathic pain. This debilitating condition affects approximately 3 to 17 percent of the general population.
Neuropathic pain manifests in several ways. Regardless of their forms, over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol, ibuprofen, or aspirin are usually ineffective in alleviating them.
Treating nerve pain can be difficult, mainly if the underlying cause is unclear.
Still, there are various treatments available for neuropathic pain. Several medicines prescribed for neuropathic pain, like gabapentin, are also used to treat other conditions. Gabapentin proves beneficial for people struggling with neuropathic pain.
But suppose you’re a breastfeeding mom dealing with chronic nerve pain. You may wonder whether it’s safe to take gabapentin as an analgesic or anti-seizure medication. If so, read on to learn how you can safely use gabapentin while breastfeeding.
Understand the Impact of Gabapentin Use on Infants
Nearly any drug in the bloodstream will transfer into breast milk in varying degrees. Although most medications do so in minimal quantities and pose no actual risk to infants, certain drugs can be found in breast milk at significant levels.
It’s crucial to note that premature infants, newborns, and babies dealing with medical instability or kidney functions face the most significant risk when exposed to medications in breast milk. With that in mind, it’s vital to understand the impact of using gabapentin on infants.
Gabapentin is a small molecule with a low tendency to bind to proteins in the bloodstream. As a result, it’s much easier for the medication to enter and be present in breast milk. However, the limited evidence indicates that it only transfers in small quantities.
The estimated levels in breast milk range from 1.3 to 3.8 percent of the weight-adjusted percentage of the maternal dose. Moreover, the infant’s serum levels, or the amount of gabapentin found in an infant’s bloodstream, were either low or undetectable. Typically, it ranges from 4 to 12 percent of the mother’s serum level.
Due to the minimal levels reported in breast milk and infant serum, it’s improbable to cause any effect on the infant. It’s worth noting, however, that there’s no available data concerning the long-term impact of gabapentin use on infants while breastfeeding.
Monitor The Infant for Potential Side Effects
It’s generally safe for mothers to use gabapentin while breastfeeding. There’s insufficient research on women to establish infant risk when using gabapentin during breastfeeding. Still, breastfeeding moms should use it with caution.
Remember that everyone may have different reactions to medications. You can promptly detect and prevent potential harm by closely monitoring your infant. Hence, it’s imperative to keep an eye on the following when using gabapentin while breastfeeding:
- The infant is not feeding as effectively as usual
- Extreme drowsiness, such as not waking to feed or sleeping more frequently than expected
- Difficulty gaining adequate gain
- Slowed breathing
- Experiencing gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea and constipation
If any of these adverse effects occur, breastfeeding moms must seek consultation with a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Prompt reporting of severe side effects is essential for early intervention, mitigation of harm, and appropriate management.
Call 911 for severe and life-threatening allergic reactions or any medical emergency when using gabapentin during breastfeeding.
Be Mindful of Timing and Dosage
Being mindful of the timing and dosage of gabapentin is crucial, especially for breastfeeding mothers. Remember that medications are metabolized in the body at varying rates.
While some reach high levels in the bloodstream a few hours after consumption, others may take longer. It’s often advisable to take gabapentin immediately after a breastfeeding session. This allows the drug to be metabolized and cleared from your system before the next feeding session.
Like other medications, the proper dosage of gabapentin will vary depending on the specific treatment and circumstances. However, the typical dose for treating nerve pain in adults is 900 mg to 3,600 mg daily, divided into three separate doses.
The actual dosages of gabapentin for breastfeeding mothers may be different. Regardless, taking the prescribed dosage and schedule is essential to ensuring its safe and effective use. Not taking the medication as directed may pose a severe risk to you and your infant.
Work Closely With Your Healthcare Provider
Gabapentin is only accessible with a doctor’s prescription. If your doctor confirms that your baby is healthy, you can safely take gabapentin while breastfeeding. In most instances, however, they usually only recommend taking the medication if the benefits outweigh the potential risks.
Note that even after you get the prescription and approval from your primary healthcare provider, working closely with them is vital. When unexpected side effects arise, they can advise you on alternative treatments to minimize potential harm to your baby without compromising your health.
Moreover, don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor if you can’t afford the medication. Healthcare providers may have access to prescription discounts, which can help reduce costs. In most instances, the doctor may suggest a three-month supply of the medication if you’re taking gabapentin long-term. This can also allow you to save money in the long term.
Based on the available and limited information, gabapentin is compatible with breastfeeding. But like other medications, it may come with potential risks, so it’s always a good idea to be more cautious. Always consult a doctor before taking gabapentin, whether for neuropathic pain or other medical conditions.
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