Reglan and Breastfeeding

by on April 19, 2012

Although use of Reglan during pregnancy is not contraindicated, it should be sparingly used and the prescription must be closely followed by the patient to avoid the troubling side effects of the drug. The same goes for breastfeeding patients. While studies suggest that metoclopramide does not adversely affect breastfeeding, it should be taken with caution.

Breast milk produced by patients taking Reglan may contain variable amounts of the medication. The medication is distributed throughout the body and some portions get its way to the mammary glands (milk producing glands of the body.) Usually, infants would receive minute percentage (up to 10%) of the maternal dosage although it is possible for the infant to achieve pharmacologically active serum levels, increased prolactin and potential gastrointestinal side effects.

While most studies do not show any serious effects on infants, the potential risk cannot be ruled out. Furthermore, the side effects of Reglan can have added burden on the breastfeeding mom.

Increased Production of Breast Milk with Reglan

Reglan is sometimes used to increase production of breast milk in women. Metoclopramide is known to increase serum prolactin level which is significant in the production of breast milk, although there are several studies that suggest otherwise. Since Reglan can help increase milk production, there are some physicians who have actually been prescribing Reglan for this purpose. However, the use of this medication for stimulating breast milk production is considered “off-label” and must only be prescribed if the prospective benefits are great.

Still the best way to increase milk production is by regularly breastfeeding the infant, throughout the day and night. By continuously emptying the breasts, the mammary glands are obligated to replenish its content thereby continuously producing milk. Usually, medications are the last resort when looking for a way to increase milk supply. It is recommended that you work with a Lactation Consultant to effectively address the insufficient milk supply. Usually, the consultant will work with you to determine why your milk supply is insufficient.

Take note that Reglan is a prescription medication and should only be given when truly needed. Although this drug can possibly increase milk production, experiencing its potential side effects is ever present. Some of its maternal side effects include anxiety, depression, diarrhea, drowsiness, headaches, sleepiness, and stomach cramps as well as tardive dyskinesia. There are not enough studies available to prove possible side effects on the infant.

If use of Reglan during breastfeeding cannot be avoided, it should be used with great caution and under close medical supervision.