Labor  Medications

MEDICATION              EFFECT ON THE NURSING INFANT

Demerol  Respiratory depression.  Altered behavioral responses for several days or weeks Visual disturbances.  Sleepy baby. Poor suckling. Cord levels up to 130% of mother's level.  FDA requires warning label that Demerol may have adverse effects on infant (Lawers 177).
Morphine  Respiratory depression. Altered behavioral responses for several days or weeks Visual disturbances. Sleepy baby. Poor suckling.
Stadol Respiratory depression. Altered behavioral responses for several days or weeks Visual disturbances. Sleepy baby. Poor suckling
Barbiturates  Accumulation in infant's tissues. Respiratory depression. Sleepy baby. Poor suckling.
Vistaril  Changes in heart rate. Poor muscle tone. Sleepy baby or restless baby. Increased jaundice.
Valium  Poor suckling. Cord blood levels up to 200% of mother's level.
Compazine  Changes in heart rate. Low body temperature. Poor muscle tone. Sleepy baby or restless baby. Increased jaundice.
Phenergan  Changes in heart rate. Low body temperature. Poor muscle tone. Sleepy baby or restless baby. Increased jaundice.
Pitocin  Changes in heart rate. Increased incidence of neonatal jaundice. Increased force of contractions against the infant's head resulting in poor suckling
sleepy baby.
Epidurals  *A general request has been made of all interested health care providers for further information and observations (case histories)  from health care practitioners. Anecdotal information suggests epidurals appear to interfere with the latch on process (Lee 63). It is not known whether it is the medication or the changes in how labor progresses. (see: The concern over epidurals.)

Lawers, Judith and Candice Woessner. Counseling the Nursing Mother. 2nd ed.  Avery Publishing Group, New York 1989: 176-181.
Lee, Nikki. Effect on Infants of Maternal Epidural Anesthesia. J Human Lact 8 (2) 1992: 63.
1 To participate in the preliminary study contact Women's International Public Health Network, 7100 Oak Forrest Lane, Bethesda, MD 20817.

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Copyright 1999 Marie Davis, RN, IBCLC 
 Last Reviewed:   Saturday, September 11, 2010