Breastfeeding and IBD

Deciding to breastfeed

Women with IBD can breastfeed, and it is a wonderful experience with many benefits to the baby. It is also a great way to share skin-to-skin cuddle time. Of course, some women with certain circumstances not related to IBD may make the informed decision to formula feed instead, and they too will have lots of opportunities to cuddle their baby.

If you choose to breastfeed, while you are in the hospital, your nurse will show you how to begin and establish your baby’s latch. Your hospital may also have lactation consultants on hand to help with any breastfeeding concerns or questions.

Remember to stay hydrated. Drink frequently – aim for eight glasses of water a day. And you may need to eat a bit more than normal to keep your energy up. Focus on eating a balanced diet.

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Medications during breastfeeding

If you are taking medications for Crohn's or colitis, speak with your gastroenterologist. Do not stop any medications on your own as this will increase your risk of flare.

Keep in mind that breastfeeding transfers breast milk to your baby’s gut, not to the bloodstream.

The majority of medications for IBD other than methotrexate and tofacitinib are considered safe to continue while breastfeeding.

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Endoscopy when breastfeeding

If you need to have an endoscopy while you are breastfeeding, rest assured it is safe. You may need to pump some breast milk to give your baby while the sedative is still in your system.

A concern with endoscopy when you are breastfeeding is dehydration from the bowel preparation. This can cause diarrhea, which may affect your milk supply, so make sure to keep drinking fluids while breastfeeding.

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Choosing not to breastfeed

You might choose to formula feed instead of breastfeeding. All women should be supported in the healthy nutrition of their baby, whether or not they have chosen to breastfeed.

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