Breast Feeding for Women with MS

New mothers with multiple sclerosis (MS) who wish to breastfeed are definitely encouraged to do so — it won’t increase your risk of an MS relapse, and it’s great for the baby. The only reason your doctor may discourage nursing is if he or she feels it’s important for you to restart your disease-modifying medication right away to reduce your risk of relapses.

Interferon medications, Copaxone (glatiramer acetate), Gilenya (fingolimod), Novantrone (mitoxantrone) or Tysabri (natalizumab) have not been approved by the FDA for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone) has been designated a Category B pregnancy risk (which means no evidence of pregnancy or fetal risk in animal studies or in clinical trials in humans). The interferons and natalizumab are Category C drugs (which means some evidence in animal studies of possible harm to the fetus).

Another consideration is that you may be very tired after your baby is born (the combination of MS fatigue and new-mom fatigue can be a real doozy). So you need to make sure you have enough energy and enough help!

A breastfeeding baby will nurse every two to four hours for the first several weeks. These frequent feedings will help you build up your milk supply, but they’re also pretty tiring. So ask the happy dad or another support person to bring you the baby for the night feedings so you can conserve your energy.

After the supply is well established, you can pump milk during the day for nighttime bottle feedings, which dad or another helper can cheerfully provide at 2 a.m. Or, if necessary, you can use formula for those feedings.

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