11 Serious Side Effects Of Lithium During Breastfeeding

Lithium And Breastfeeding

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Do you suffer from unusual shifts of energy, activity level, and mood swings? Do you notice a change in your ability to carry our normal tasks? Has your doctor mentioned that you may suffer from bipolar disorder? If you can relate to the questions, you might want to read our post here.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

A condition in which the symptoms are severe, but still can be treated and mothers would be able to live a normal life. Mothers with bipolar disorder might have extreme emotional states that are often referred to as mood episodes.

Lithium And Breastfeeding:

Lithium can treat bipolar disorder in individuals. The onset of the condition occurs only before or during the reproductive years and complicates the pregnancy stage. You may be concerned about the fetus being exposed to the lithium, and later when you are breastfeeding the child. Since lithium is one of the most critical treatment options for the condition, using lithium while breastfeeding is a topic of concern. Our post will provide a detailed explanation of lithium nursing implications on mothers and infants.

Lithium compounds are often used for psychiatric medication. Lithium is a mood stabilizing drug and helps treat depression and mood swings. When various other treatments are ineffective in treating the condition, doctors advise lithium. Lithium was considered unsuitable; however now, it is considered quite effective for treating depression and schizophrenia.

[ Read: Ways To Tackle Postnatal Depression ]

Side Effects Of Lithium During Breastfeeding:

Lithium is a good medication for psychiatric disorders. However, lithium nursing interventions include:

  • Leukocytosis: Increased white blood cell count.
  • Dry Mouth: When the mouth does not make enough saliva, does make it dry and uncomfortable.
  • Vertigo: Loss of balance and whirling sensation, associated with looking down from a great height.
  • Muscle twitch: An involuntary muscle contraction.
  • Headache
  • Decreased memory
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Breastfeeding mothers might pass on the side effects to the infant in many cases. The effect might not be as high as in the mothers (1).

[ Read: Side Effects Of Hydrocodone While Breastfeeding ]

Monitoring Lithium During Breastfeeding:

It is important that your doctor monitors your progress during the breastfeeding phase. If you suffer from restlessness, difficulty in feeding and low muscle tone, you need to consult your doctor. How each woman reacts to lithium intake is highly individual. However, you can continue breastfeeding when:

  • You are in a stable maternal mood.
  • If you have a full term and healthy infant.
  • If your pediatrician supports the medication and understands the importance of monitoring the infant while she is on medication.

[ Read: Treatment For Constipation While Breastfeeding ]

Studies say that lithium is transmitted in variable concentrations when the mother is breastfeeding. Since infants are vulnerable to the same side effects it is advisable to monitor them every 6-8 weeks There might be a change in thyroid and renal functioning of the infant. The monitoring must include measuring lithium level with the help of:

  • A blood test
  • TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
  • Creatinine
  • BUN (˘Blood Urea Nitrogen)

Lithium might increase the serum prolactin, but not affect the ability of the woman to breastfeed.

Your breast milk is tailored to your baby’s needs, and it helps avoid a host of diseases. Many women stop breastfeeding while consuming lithium medications. You should understand the importance and benefits of breastfeeding and consult a pediatrician before you breastfeed your infant.

[ Read: Is Ambien Safe While Breastfeeding ]

Did you consume lithium medications during pregnancy? How did it go? If you have any other information on Lithium and breastfeeding, please write to us. Leave a comment below, and help other moms overcome the situation.

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  • rebecca_sonu

    Thank you for this excellent article. I regret not having seen it a year ago when I was breast feeding my baby girl while taking lithium, avoiding feeding at peak med times , taking baby for blood test etc. Unfortunately, the whole thing got a bit too stressful and I had some kind of a relapse. Had to wean baby fully at about 2.5 months and increase lithium dose , get more sleep etc.