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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Vicodin and Breastfeeding: Will it Pass Through My Milk?

Having a baby is no easy task. Most women are very tired and some are sick afterwards (I actually threw up after a few of my births). And unless you are Super Woman, chances are you have some pain and discomfort after delivery – no matter how you gave birth. Depending on how much pain you experience, you may wonder, “Is taking Vicodin and breastfeeding safe?

I had three vaginal deliveries and three c-sections, and each of my recoveries has been different. At times I felt great, and sometimes I felt like I was dying! My pain tolerance is fairly high, but with some of my births I did require some pain medication to use as a last resort.  I am not one to just take medication, so I actually waited until the pain was that bad to actually ask for meds.

Vicodin and Breastfeeding – When is it Needed?

When it comes to medications and breastfeeding, you really do have to watch what you take. Some medications get into your milk more than others. The last thing you want to do is cause your baby to be extra groggy. This can totally mess up your breastfeeding and bonding times. It’s pretty hard jostling a baby awake as it is!

After my last c-section my doctor prescribed me Vicodin (aka: hydrocodone). Knowing it’s a narcotic, and knowing that I was breastfeeding, I had to do some research to be sure that this was all right for my baby. I actually got pretty uppity about it, to be honest, and tried to refuse the medicine – even with the OB ensuring me it was okay since it was in such a low dose. I didn’t want to take anything, but I was in so much pain! Eventually I decided it was time for me to put on my Big Girl pants and listen to my doctor. However, I still had to do some research to see if the Vicodin would pass through my milk.

Vicodin and Breastfeeding – is it Safe?

What I’ve found in my research is that yes, the hydrocodone will make it into breast milk, but it’s perfectly fine in such a low dose. The dosage should be no more than 30mg a day. And of course, if your baby is showing signs of being affected, let your doctor know immediately and stop taking the medicine until further instructed.

Most OBs prescribe a low dose. I believe my dosage was 5 mg, taken as needed every 6 hours. In order for it to really affect the baby, I would have to have taken 6+ pills per day. I don’t think that I took more than 2-3 a day.

Researchers have conducted studies that have tested moms and babies on the effects of hydrocodone on the baby. Out of 30 women tested, 12 of the ladies had a detectable amount of the drug in their breast milk, and the amount was very small. An 18 day infant whose mother was taking 20 mg of the drug, in addition to 1300 mg of acetaminophen every 4-6 hours, became groggy and slept most of the day. Once the mother reduced her dose by half, the baby no longer experienced grogginess. Of course, this was a lot of medicine, and it’s safe to assume that the baby was groggy because of the hydrocodone.

Lactation Risk Level for Vicodin

Hydrocodone is considered an L3, which is considered moderately safe while breastfeeding. If you are still concerned about taking Vicodin after a delivery, consider the alternatives of acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

In the end, I did end up taking the Vicodin a few times, and my son had no effects from it. It also did not hinder our breastfeeding experience. I had to take into consideration that I had to feel better in order to take care of my son. At the time, I was in so much pain that I was in tears and could barely get up to walk after my surgery. The medicine took the edge off, and I was actually able to sit up in bed, or in a chair, for a length of time, holding the baby and nursing him without wincing in pain.

In conclusion, taking Vicodin and breastfeeding results in the drug passing through to your milk, but in such a low dose you need not worry. Enjoy your baby, and be pain free while doing so!

How did you manage pain post-delivery? Did Vicodin and breastfeeding prove beneficial for you?

Rhiana is a 36 year old mother of 5, who resides in IL with her husband of nearly 15 years. She is a self proclaimed "crunchy" mom who not only breastfeeds, but co-sleeps, cloth diapers, selectively vaccinates and baby wears. In her free time, Rhiana enjoys cooking, baking and is addicted to Pinterest! Follow her other bloggin at

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