Is it safe to go to the dentist for elective care and then resume breastfeeding after being numb?
We know that breastfeeding is some of the best nutrition for babies. The American Public Health Association advocates for mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months, and up to two years of life. Evidence is continuing to mount proving the immense benefit for the neonate/child to receive its mother’s milk1,2.
Some medical professionals may still be instructing mothers to “pump and dump” breastmilk after receiving local anesthetics for dental care. Although understandable, the thought process behind this is outdated and not founded in science3. We want to put the baby’s best interests first, and keeping the mother healthy is paramount in doing so, of course this also includes oral health. Surprisingly, mothers can transmit the bacteria that causes cavities to her newborn in a process called vertical transmission4. So, allowing a mother to delay dental care is not healthy for the baby in the grand scheme.
Multiple studies, guidelines, and reviews have shown that using Local Anesthetics during dental procedures, particularly Lidocaine with or without epinephrine, is safe for the mother and child5,6,7,8. The American Society of Anesthesiologists published these recommendations: “1) All anesthetic and analgesic drugs transfer to breastmilk; however, only small amounts are present and in very low concentrations considered clinically insignificant… 2) Patients should resume breastfeeding as soon as possible after surgery because anesthetic drugs appear in such low levels in breastmilk”. It is not recommended that patients “pump and dump”9.
Lidocaine, currently deemed the safest anesthetic during pregnancy and breastfeeding, has been proven to be safe to the mother and fetus before childbirth and typically a fetus receives more of a drug in the womb vs during breastfeeding10,11. Fetus’ would also be directly affected by anesthetic blocks during pregnancy: “As local anaesthetics are commonly used during labour analgesia or obstetric anaesthesia, there has been extensive investigation on possible neonatal effects secondary to direct placental transfer, with no evidence of harm6.”
Another concern a mother may have regards the use of Epinephrine contained in the local anesthetic. This chemical is naturally found in our bodies, helps with hemostasis, and duration of the local anesthetic so dentists may use less of it. “No studies currently exist describing the use of epinephrine during human lactation; however, because of its short half-life, it is unlikely that epinephrine distributes into breast milk and, therefore, it is not contraindicated for use during lactation10.”
In Summary: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics the local anesthetic, Lidocaine with or without epinephrine, used for dental care is safe for mothers and their babies. There is no need to “pump and dump” the mothers milk anytime after given the local anesthetic12. Of course, consult your dentist if you have any questions about this topic.
This information is specific to the Local Anesthetic Lidocaine, used specifically for dental work. It may not apply to other pharmaceuticals, again consult with your dentist or medical doctor.
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