Radiology Exams and Breastfeeding Moms, What is Safe?

Radiology Exams and Breastfeeding Moms, What is Safe?

From time to time a breastfeeding mother may need to have a radiological examination and she may be concerned about how it may affect breastfeeding. It’s a very valid question and at OSR, we take our patient’s and their children’s health seriously so we want our moms to have the knowledge they need to make informed decisions for themselves and their children.


According to it is perfectly safe for a breastfeeding mom to get any kind of X-ray, including dental X-rays or even chest X-rays. The radiation in an X-ray may kill off a few of the living cells in any breast milk present at the time of the scan, but it won’t expose your baby to radiation.


It’s even safe to get a mammogram, although mammograms of lactating women can be harder to read.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, which use magnets and no radiation, are also safe for a breastfeeding mom. It is also usually fine to be exposed to “contrast dye,” which is sometimes injected before an imaging scan to help illuminate certain parts of your anatomy. It’s safe because the dye is made up of molecules that are too large to pass into breast milk.

Nuclear Medicine Precautions

However, states if a breastfeeding mother is having a nuclear medicine scan (eg bone, VQ, myocardial perfusion or parathyroid scan), breastfeeding and close contact may need to be restricted, depending on the radiopharmaceutical used.

A radiopharmaceutical is radioactive medicine. A small amount of a radiopharmaceutical is given to a person who has a nuclear medicine scan. Depending on the radiopharmaceutical used, this makes the body slightly radioactive for a short time (usually hours to days).

In some cases it may be necessary to withhold breastfeeding for a period of time. This will depend on how long the radioactivity takes to decay naturally in the mother’s body. A mother can express beforehand and give this milk to her baby while she is waiting. During this time she can be encouraged to express and store her breast milk for use after the withholding period, as the milk will also lose its radioactivity in this time.

The potential danger of radiation stems from the amount of radiation you have been subjected to. According to the Radiation Information Network at Idaho State University, the average person in the United States receives less than 5 REM, every year. This accumulates over time from daily exposure from small sources such as our cell phones, microwaves, airplanes, occasional x-rays and natural resources such as radon. As with most things in healthcare, the most important thing to consider when trying to decide whether or not to breastfeed after radiation exposure is weighing the benefits vs. the potential risks involved. (

It is recommended for breastfeeding mothers to inform their healthcare providers that they are breastfeeding. Make sure to let our medical team here at OSR know when you are breastfeeding as well!  This will help the health care provider to tailor the examination (whenever possible) to best suit your situation.   In addition, there may be alternative examinations which have the least impact upon breastfeeding that may be discussed and offered if appropriate.

Chiropractic Care for Breastfeeding

At OSR, we know that breastfeeding is an important and sacred part of becoming a new mother.  The process can be easy for some, and difficult for others.  Did you know that chiropractic services can help you AND your baby more comfortable during breastfeeding?

If a mother is experiencing pain during breastfeeding, the pain can affect her milk production.   What typically causes pain in the neck and back is that the majority of breastfeeding mothers are hunched over and looking down at their baby during breast feeding. This can cause underlying problems in the back and neck due to the frequency of feedings.  It is important that new moms are sitting in comfortable chairs with arm rests and using support pillows as much as possible when breastfeeding their babies. This will take some of the stress off of your shoulders, neck and back while your baby is nursing.

Another main concern of chiropractors in new mothers is that they are wearing the proper bra for breastfeeding and support. A nursing bra should have wider straps than a normal bra, and should be fitted so that there is not increased stress on the back for the mother in order to avoid further spine problems down the road.

Chiropractic Care for Infants

Breastfeeding and daily life can also be difficult for the infant as well as the mother. The natural birthing process puts a lot of stress on your baby’s body as well as your own.  While breastfeeding comes naturally to some babies, to others it is more difficult. Adjustments on an infant or baby soon after birth can help the baby in nursing easier. Babies that have difficulty latching often respond well to chiropractic adjustments. Babies who prefer nursing on one side sometimes are suffering from issues in their upper cervical spine!  This can lead to pain or discomfort for the babies if they are trying to breastfeed on one side or the other, which can lead to trouble latching.  Our chiropractic care team is here to help you with any concerns you might have!

Here at OSR our chiropractors are able to help you from day one of your pregnancy until after the baby is born! If you have any questions or concerns give us a call at 488-5555!





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