How to feed a newborn baby is, and should be, a personal choice. You may have understandable concerns about breastfeeding. But MS cannot be passed through breast milk and studies on the course of MS suggest either no effect, or even a possible decrease in the relapse rate is associated with breastfeeding.
Because of the increased risk of relapse in the first few months after birth, it may be worth considering expressing and storing some breast milk. Additionally, stored milk can also be used by other members of the family to feed your baby, which allows you some extra rest time or a break from night feeds.
It’s good to discuss your feeding options with your MS nurse and/or midwife before your baby is born, so that they can provide appropriate support and advice. You may also access support and/or advice from the Australian Breastfeeding Association, who can put you in touch with other relevant services.
Can I take steroids when breastfeeding?
Steroids have been shown to cross into breast milk, but there is very little research that has explored the high doses used in treating MS relapse, so currently women are advised not to breastfeed whilst taking steroids.
You may choose to express as much milk as possible before starting the course of treatment and store this for use during the treatment – usually five days for oral steroids or three days if taken intravenously. Milk can be expressed and discarded during the actual treatment period to ensure you maintain your milk supply. Breastfeeding can start again between one and two days after the end of treatment – your MS nurse and neurologist will determine the exact timings with you.