Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) is commonly used to relieve muscle sprain, and healthcare providers prescribe this drug for short-term usage. However, if you are a lactating woman, you might be concerned about the safety of taking Flexeril when breastfeeding.
Much research has not been done to understand the effects of Flexeril on lactation; however, since the drug can be found in breast milk, you should take it with caution. Usually, doctors prescribe Flexeril to lactating women only after considering its benefits and side effects.
Read this post to learn more about the safety and side effects of taking Flexeril during breastfeeding and the precautions you should take. We also tell you some natural remedies to treat muscle injuries.
What Is Cyclobenzaprine?
Cyclobenzaprine is a prescription-based skeletal muscle relaxant that helps alleviate muscle pain. It is a short-term treatment course for various muscle injuries such as sprains. It is prescribed with other healing measures such as physical therapies and adequate rest. Cyclobenzaprine relaxes muscles by working on the central nervous system (CNS). It is available in the form of tablets and extended-release capsules.
Flexeril is one of the brand names of cyclobenzaprine. Some other brand names are Amrix, Fexmid, and Comfort Pac-Cyclobenzaprine (1).
Is It Safe To Take Flexeril While Breastfeeding?
There is not enough research on the effects of cyclobenzaprine on human lactation. But the composition of cyclobenzaprine is similar to tricyclic antidepressants such as imipramine or amitriptyline, which are known to interact with breast milk.
The use of tricyclic antidepressants is known to cause sinus tachycardiaiXA condition where the heart beats faster than than usual (i.e.,100 beats per minute) , arrhythmiasiXAbnormal or irregular heart rhythms and stroke. Therefore, nursing mothers should use cyclobenzaprine with caution (2).
Flexeril And Breastfeeding -The Side Effects
Muscle injuries are common in the postpartum period. They can occur for several reasons, such as sprains or strains, that may occur due to repetitive movements and prolonged baby holding for nursing. If you are a nursing mother, it may help you to know about the potential side effects of a drug like cyclobenzaprine (3).
Here are some side effects of cyclobenzaprine.
- Irregular breathing
- Difficulty in breathing/chest tightness.
- Puffiness around the eyes
- Dry mouth
- Upset stomach
- Swellings on the tongue, mouth, lips or face.
In the case of the following severe symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
- Rapid heartbeat
- Depression or mood swings
- Ringing sounds in the ears.
- Disturbing thoughts.
- A serious case of skin itching or hives.
An overdose of cyclobenzaprine can also produce severe symptoms such as –
- Flushed skin
- Changes in body temperature.
- Problems in breathing
Even if you do not suffer from any of the above side effects while taking cyclobenzaprine, but experience a sense of unease or any other problems after its use, consider it a potential health risk and tell your doctor or a pharmacology expert about it. It will help avert any adverse effect of the drug on your well-being and infant development.
Precautions Of Cyclobenzaprine Use While Breastfeeding
If you are a nursing mother, a thorough risk assessment of the drug before use is essential to ensure its safety and efficacy. Most drugs pass into breast milk, but they may or may not cause harm to your baby.
Here are some cautionary measures to follow if you use cyclobenzaprine while breastfeeding for general pain relief.
- Cyclobenzaprine use will add to the side effects of drugs that are CNS depressants. These are drugs that cause drowsiness by suppressing the nervous system. So if you are taking medicines for colds and allergies, sedatives or any medicine for your sleep problems, any painkillers or drugs for seizuresiX A condition resulting in uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain, causing sudden jerking movements in the body , use cyclobenzaprine with extreme caution. These same considerations apply if you use some form of anesthesia during your dental visits and other medicines you might take to relax your injured or tired muscles.
- As a new mother taking care of a small baby, you need to be even more alert than usual. Since the use of Cyclobenzaprine may cause dizziness and drowsiness and suppress your nervous system, disable its use if you find it interfering with the care of your child. Also, practice extreme caution when you drive, use tools or machinery or perform any task that requires extreme attention when you are on cyclobenzaprine. Episodes of dizziness or drowsiness may cause unexpected problems for you and can be extremely dangerous. In addition to increasing your chances of accidents, these problems can pose a danger to the neonatal health and well-being.
- Use of cyclobenzaprine causes the mouth to become dry. If temporary solutions like chewing a sugarless candy or ice cubes don’t provide relief then, increase your water intake. If the problem persists, consult with your dentist for a solution. Not taking care of this problem may lead to dental decay or gum problems, which in turn will necessitate you to take more drugs for your oral health or undergo dental treatments with anesthesia. These potential problems can affect overall maternal health.
- Tell your doctor about any drug allergies you suffer from before taking cyclobenzaprine.
- If you have used any MAO inhibitor (MAOIs), then refrain from using cyclobenzaprine for the next two weeks to avoid harmful drug interaction (1). MAOIs are a type of antidepressant drugs. Some common brand names are Marplan, Parnate and Nardil. Therefore, it is very important not to use your MAOIs without your doctor’s approval when using cyclobenzaprine even if your doctor prescribed you your antidepressants at an earlier time.
Besides these, always take the medicine in recommended dosage to avert the risk of overdosage. Also, share about all the medications that you take before starting cyclobenzaprine to avoid potential drug interactions.
Natural Remedies For Muscle Injuries While Breastfeeding
If you are not keen on using any drug for your muscle injury while you are breastfeeding, ask your doctor for any natural and safe treatments you can use during this time.
Here are some measures you can use after your muscle injury for effective pain management.
- Immediate use of ice or cold packs on the injured area is helpful for all types of muscle injuries.
- Avoid the use of heat packs for at least 72 hours after your injury.
- Certain herbs, spices, or nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties and are beneficial for inflammatory problems such as pain and swelling. Some examples are turmeric, fish oil, green tea, and Resveratrol (a compound found in foods such as red grapes). Ask your doctor if you can safely use these food sources while breastfeeding (4).
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will Flexeril affect my baby if I breastfeed?
The quantity of Flexeril in breast milk is minimal, and infants generally tolerate it well. Thus, if a mother needs Flexeril, she need not stop breastfeeding. However, it’s crucial to monitor the infant for drowsiness, proper weight gain, and developmental milestones to note any potential side effects (8).
2. How often can I take Flexeril while breastfeeding?
A healthcare provider should determine how often Flexeril can be taken while breastfeeding. As a skeletal muscle relaxant, it may enter the breast milk and harm the infant, especially in high doses. Therefore, it is vital to consult a healthcare provider to evaluate risks and benefits and establish the correct dosage and frequency.
3. Can I take Flexeril at night while I am breastfeeding?
Your healthcare provider will determine the time for taking the medicine. Therefore, stick to the time of day prescribed by your doctor for taking it.
Muscle injuries become extremely prevalent while you’re recovering from your pregnancy and the birthing process, as well as caring for your infant. However, despite being a commonly prescribed medicine for a short-term course to alleviate muscle sprains, Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) has been discovered in breastmilk. Hence, using Flexeril while breastfeeding should be avoided unless doctors prescribe it after weighing the advantages and risks. Even if your doctor has recommended it, take the required precautions, such as not taking cyclobenzaprine with cold medications, not handling your infant after taking it, and so on. Alternatively, you can try various home treatments for muscle strains and pains.
Infographic: How To Handle The Side Effects Of Cyclobenzaprine And Alternative Therapies To Try
Cyclobenzaprine is a prescription medication that can relieve muscle pain and stiffness. But it can also cause various side effects, including drowsiness, dizziness, and dry mouth. This infographic will discuss ways to manage the side effects of Cyclobenzaprine and explore some alternative therapies while breastfeeding that may be worth trying.
- Cyclobenzaprine or Flexeril is a medication prescribed for muscle pain, but its effects on human lactation are not well-researched.
- Breastfeeding mothers should avoid using cyclobenzaprine unless advised by a doctor.
- Cyclobenzaprine use can cause several side effects such as breathing difficulty, rashes, swelling, constipation, and dizziness.
- Overdose of cyclobenzaprine can cause severe reactions such as seizures, restlessness, and hallucinations.
- Alternative treatments for muscle pains include using heat packs, ice packs, natural herbs, turmeric, fish oil, and green tea.
- Cyclobenzaprine and Alcohol Interactions.
- Joseph C. Maroon et al.; (2010); Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief.
- Cyclobenzaprine – Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed).