Can we have a Colonoscopy w...
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Getting a colonoscopy while breastfeeding can be a very frustrating experience for many mothers. However, being informed before getting a colonoscopy is essential as it will impact your and your baby's health.

In this blog for breastfeeding moms, we will explore the key aspects of getting a colonoscopy as a nursing mother. With this information, you will be able to make a beneficial decision for both you and your little one.

 

Can you get a colonoscopy while breastfeeding?

Frankly, yes, you can get a colonoscopy while breastfeeding. But this question is often posed by breastfeeding mothers for good reason. There are many considerations that come into play when having this medical procedure while breastfeeding, such as medication that won't harm your child and the ability to feed your child while prepping.

Colonoscopy procedure

A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that is carried out under light sedation. It allows a doctor to examine the inside of your colon and rectum. This procedure is typically used to diagnose and treat conditions like colorectal cancer, polyps, and inflammatory bowel disease. During the procedure, a long, adjustable tube with a camera at the front is inserted into the rectum. The doctor can then examine the colon's lining for abnormalities or issues. 


Though the uncomfortable yet painless procedure takes under half an hour at most, the preparation period is longer. It requires the patient to cleanse the bowel to clear out all faces before the procedure. This is done using a low-residue diet for one or two days and a strong laxative the day before the procedure.

 

How safe is colonoscopy while breastfeeding?

Safety is an extremely important concern for breastfeeding mothers. Fortunately, getting a colonoscopy while breastfeeding is generally considered to be safe. But, there are some important factors to consider before getting a colonoscopy.

Medication

Before you get your colonoscopy, it's crucial to inform your doctor that you are breastfeeding. The medications used during a colonoscopy and the anaesthesia should be carefully selected to minimize potential risks to your baby through breast milk. The following medications have proven to pose the most minimal risk when transferring breast milk to your child.

Fentanyl

This is a potent medication that is very safe for breastfeeding mothers. A study found that only 0.024% ends up in breast milk within 24 hours of taking it.

Meperidine/Pethidine

This medication is used a lot in childbirth. A study with 9 women who had surgery found that giving a single dose of Meperidine for anaesthesia or sedation usually doesn't cause problems for older breastfed babies.

Propofol 

This is another drug used during anaesthesia. Only 0.025% ends up in breast milk, and mothers can usually start breastfeeding when they wake up from the anaesthesia.

Timing

Plan the colonoscopy when your baby is due to be fed. This way, you can nurse your baby just before the procedure and minimize the time between feeding and the administration of anaesthesia or medications for the procedure.

 

Can I do colonoscopy prep while breastfeeding?

Colonoscopy preparation often involves a special diet and laxatives to clean out the colon. Here are some considerations when it comes to a colonoscopy prep while breastfeeding.

Dietary restrictions

You may be required to follow a special diet before the colonoscopy. Talk with your doctor and ensure that the diet you follow still provides enough nutrition for you to breastfeed your child.

Laxatives and bowel preparation medication

There are many safe laxatives for breastfeeding mothers to use when they prep for a colonoscopy. 

Macrogols (Movicol and Laxido) 

This is a common laxative that works by pulling water into your gut to wash out the contents inside. Since it is not absorbed from the gut, theory does not go into breast milk and affects your baby.

Sodium picosulfate (Picolax)

This cannot be absorbed by your body when you take it. The active metabolite absorbed doesn't appear in breast milk, making it safe for your child.

Macrogol 3350 (KleanPrep) 

This is another laxative that washes out your gut and does not enter your blood or breast milk.

Senna 

This is a laxative that makes your bowels more active. In a study, they found none of it in the milk of 23 women who took it. So, it's usually safe to breastfeed while using Senna. Still, in a study where mothers took many doses, a few babies had loose stools.

Sodium phosphate enema (Fleet) 

This is a saline laxative that brings water to your bowels. While some of it may go to your blood, it is unlikely to affect breast milk.

Bisacodyl (Dulcolax) 

This laxative is taken orally and is poorly absorbed from the gut. Thus, very low levels of Bisodacyl are found in breast milk, which wouldn't affect your child.  

 

Hydration 

Staying hydrated during this period is essential since you are already on a low-residue diet when prepping for your colonoscopy while breastfeeding. It promotes your well-being while ensuring a sufficient milk supply for your child.

 

Alternative Feeding Options During Colonoscopy Prep

If you need to pause breastfeeding temporarily during the colonoscopy preparation phase, consider the following alternative feeding options for your baby:

Pumped Breast Milk

In some cases, you might be advised not to breastfeed in the time before and after a colonoscopy. Instead, you are told to pump and store breast milk before the procedure to ensure your little one has a safe source of nutrition during your recovery. However, this may pose a problem for some mothers if their child is not accustomed to feeding from a cup or bottle.

Formula Feeding

High-quality infant formula can also be a reliable alternative for feeding your baby. Infant formula is specially designed to provide all the important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that a growing baby needs. It's formulated to mimic the composition of breast milk as closely as possible. But, of course, this should not replace breast milk permanently as breast milk is considered the topmost nutrient source for a growing baby.

Takeaway Point

While it is possible to have a colonoscopy while breastfeeding, it requires careful planning and communication with your doctor. The most important thing is that the medical procedure is safe for you and your baby. With the help of your lactation specialist and your doctor, you can get a colonoscopy while breastfeeding with little to no risk.

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