If you have ever needed an MRI while breastfeeding you have probably wondered if it is safe.
Adding IV contrast dye and breastfeeding creates even more questions.
It's not that an MRI is unsafe in anyway, but there is some uncertainty with the contrast dye used during an MRI. Not every MRI will require contrast dye but many do, I had to have an MRI with contrast while breastfeeding which led me to question the safety.
When I was three months postpartum with my last baby I decided to start exercising again and hit it too hard. After three weeks of working out and feeling great about myself I was walking one day and got a piercing pain in my pelvic area which stopped me in my tracks.
Long story short (ish) this pain led to many doctor visits, from my OB to my primary care doctor, to eventually an MRI with contrast dye. My diagnosis ended up being a pelvic injury related to the birth of my third baby. You can read more about this here if you are interested.
Why do some MRI technicians recommend pumping and discarding breastmilk after an MRI?
The technician performing my MRI mentioned that I may want to pump and dump my breastmilk due to the contrast dye.
I found this hard to believe because my extensive research on breastfeeding and other over the counter and prescription drugs shows usually extremely minuscule amounts of any substance make it into breastmilk.
As I looked at my instructions given to me I noticed it said the breastfeeding mother may wish to pump and discard milk for 24 hours after the MRI.
What?! I kind of freaked out when I saw those instructions. That's ludicrous, no way I would discard that much milk or would happily go without nursing for so long. Then, as I read further the instructions said this was at the mother's discretion and she could continue breastfeeding if desired.
Now I was even more confused. Yes, I desired to continue breastfeeding, but I wouldn't want to do anything to put my baby in jeopardy. So which is the truth?
The contrast used in my MRI is Gadopentetate. The technician assisting me gave me a copy of the paperwork from the manufacturer's insert.
It noted that only 0.01-0.04% of the dose received will make it into breastmilk. Of this small amount less than 1% of it will be absorbed by the baby. This is an extremely small amount and much less than the same paperwork notes is safe to be given to babies between 8 days old - 2 years old.
After considering this information I felt extremely safe continuing to breastfeed, and even fed my baby immediately after the procedure.
I am not sure why anyone would continue to recommend pumping and dumping for 24 hours after the use of contrast during an MRI but there you have it. When I asked the technician for further details he admitted it was an unknown and they are going off the paperwork given.
I am happy to confirm my findings that breastfeeding after an MRI with IV Contrast dye is safe:
Check out further information from these reputable breastfeeding resources:
From Kelly Mom.
From breastfeeding expert Jack Newman MD:
Question Recently, some of my patients were instructed not to breastfeed for 24 to 48 hours after magnetic resonance imaging scans. Is this based on scientific evidence?
Answer No. On the contrary, evidence indicates unequivocally that the contrast media used for both magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography scans are excreted into breast milk in such small quantities that there is no concern at all for nursing babies.
From the American College of Radiology:
Because of the very small percentage of iodinated contrast medium that is excreted into the breast milk and absorbed by the infant’s gut, we believe that the available data suggest that it is safe for the mother and infant to continue breast-feeding after receiving such an agent.
What about a CT scan while breastfeeding?
The same information about MRI scans applies to CT scans while breastfeeding. This includes CT scans using a contrast dye. The recommendations are very similar with the American College of Radiology again recommending that it is safe to continue breastfeeding after receiving a CT with IV contrast.
The consensus is that it is safe to continue breastfeeding after an MRI with contrast. The amount of any contrast medium which makes it to your baby through breastmilk is miniscule.
If anyone ever tells you to pump and discard milk after an MRI or CT scan with contrast please reconsider and let them know this is outdated information.