Managing Pain During Breastfeeding: Wisdom Tooth Removal

Ibuprofen TabletsWhich pain medications are safe to take while breastfeeding? I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed on Friday, so now I am in a considerable amount of discomfort. Although I did not take any pain medication until Monday, I now find myself needing something to help me cope with the pain and pressure as my mouth and jaw heal. However, because I am still proudly breastfeeding my ten month old daughter, I want to make sure that the pain medication that I take is safe to use while nursing.

The oral surgeon who performed my surgery prescribed me some hydrocodone, or Vicodin. According to my research, hydrocodone is an L3 drug during breastfeeding. The L3 risk category means that the medication is moderately safe:

“There are no controlled studies in breastfeeding women, however the risk of untoward effects to a breastfed infant is possible; or, controlled studies show only minimal non-threatening adverse effects. Drugs should be given only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the infant.”

Because I am not in an extreme amount of pain, I have opted against taking any of my prescribed hydrocodone. Instead, I am turning to pain medications that have been deemed safe while breastfeeding.

The first pain medication that I decided to take to manage my pain was good old ibuprofen. Ibuprofen and I have a long history together. Furthermore, ibuprofen is considered an L1 drug during breastfeeding. The L1 risk category means that the medication is the safest possible drug for a nursing mother and baby:

“Drug which has been taken by a large number of breastfeeding mothers without any observed increase in adverse effects in the infant. Controlled studies in breastfeeding women fail to demonstrate a risk to the infant and the possibility of harm to the breastfeeding infant is remote; or the product is not orally bioavailable in an infant.”

I prefer ibuprofen because of both the pain-relieving effects as well as the anti-inflammatory properties. Because I still have quite a bit of swelling in my mouth and jaw that is making opening my mouth rather difficult, the ibuprofen should help me out in two ways. With that said, though, a single ibuprofen every few hours is not necessarily managing my pain. Thus, in addition to ibuprofen, I have also been taking an occasional Tylenol. Tylenol, or acetaminophen, is also an L1 medication.

The combination of both ibuprofen and Tylenol seems to be managing the pain from my wisdom tooth removal while breastfeeding. Both pain medications are considered safest for nursing mothers and babies. With that said, though, I am still being careful not to take too many drugs that might hurt my daughter. Fortunately, one pain pill every few hours is enough to keep my discomfort at bay.

Have you ever dealt with pain during breastfeeding?


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Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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