Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a chronic, complex health condition that continues to be a growing problem in the general population, and this increase is paralleled in pregnant women. Pregnancy is a time when women with OUD may be ready to begin a journey of recovery. OUD has both maternal and fetal implications. The safest way to begin recovery during pregnancy is with the initiation of either buprenorphine or methadone to prevent symptoms of withdrawal which can increase risk of fetal harm.
Both medications have the added benefit of being safe to use during lactation. There is a minimal amount of either medication that is found in breastmilk. Breastfeeding during medication assisted recovery (MAR) is linked both to improved maternal and neonatal outcomes, and improved bonding. Often women who are engaged in MAR are unaware of the benefits of breastfeeding initiation and exclusivity. Mothers may perceive breastfeeding as a danger to their baby based on misinformation and bias. Initiation of individualized and nonjudgmental breastfeeding education to women beginning an inpatient MAR program can improve maternal understanding of the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding and increase intention to exclusively breastfeed.