Nursing Under the Influence: Legal Pain Killers and Infant Death

Stephanie Greene, 39, of South Carolina

Stephanie Greene, 39, of South Carolina

Trigger: this article has the potential to emotionally disturb sensitive individuals. 

This week, Stephanie Greene, 39, of South Carolina was charged with the murder of her six-week old baby girl. According to the Daily Mail, “A toxicology report revealed baby Alexis had a level of morphine considered lethal for an adult,” and

“Prosecutors said Stephanie Greene, 39, was a nurse and knew the dangers of taking painkillers while pregnant and breast feeding, but chose to conceal her pregnancy from doctors to keep getting her prescriptions.

She lost her nursing license in 2004 for trying to get drugs illegally.

However Greene’s lawyer said she was only trying to stop debilitating pain from a car crash more than a decade before and relied on her own judgment and medical research on the Internet instead of the advice of doctors.

Alexis’s death did not need to happen. And, although it is incredibly irresponsible to withhold pregnancy from a doctor and take substances while nursing, from most of the breast feeding “advice” and pressure found on the Internet mommy communities, I can see why Greene thought taking prescription pain killers would be totally okay. In fact, according to KellyMom, morphine is an approved pain medication for nursing mothers:

Are you fucking serious?

Are you fucking serious?

You can find the list of drugs KellyMom approves here. And, BTW, morphine is a class “B” on this chart:

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“No evidence of risk in humans”. Really? Morphine? Really? WebMD clearly states that morphine passes through breast milk, so it’s shocking that KellyMom would make a blanket endorsement regarding morphine’s safety while nursing.

The major issue here is that this baby’s death could have been avoided if, instead of trusting extremely biased Internet sites, Greene spoke with her doctor instead. I’m willing to concede that Greene does, undoubtedly, have a substance abuse problem. But even if she did not, I can see how someone would easily make the mistake of using dangerous drugs during pregnancy and while nursing based on the misinformation found in propaganda sources.

In the past, I’ve been called “bitter” for my articles questioning the validity of KellyMom’s statements. Allow me to clear the air: I’m not bitter, I’m educated – but that does not mean I know everything. What it, most honestly, means is that I understand my own limitations and I have empathy for the limitations of others. I believe wholeheartedly that any mom-geared website that degrades women and uses misinformation to persuade and guilt moms into a one-size-fits-all parenting method should be scrutinized.

Greene certainly had an issue with substance abuse, but she was not encouraged to seek help for her problems. Part of the reason is because she was not honest with herself or her doctors, but an equally large part of the problem is that her substance abuse was validated by inaccurate charts on KellyMom and similar parenting websites and/or communities (the resident breast feeding nazis of BabyCenter, WTE, and CafeMom might have had something to do with the social pressure).

The fact is, if Greene needed morphine for medical reasons, she should not have been breast feeding. Period. We shouldn’t be taking risks with substances that are known to enter the blood stream and test positive in breast milk. A baby’s health is not something to gamble with. Period.

6 thoughts on “Nursing Under the Influence: Legal Pain Killers and Infant Death

        1. Mrs. Bottlesoup

          I feel like it’s really unfortunate that some of their information is helpful, but most of it is propaganda. Women need a true, honest resource for breastfeeding information. I agree that breast is best, but if you’re on medications or having emotional issues, giving your baby formula shouldn’t be vilified.

    1. Mrs. Bottlesoup

      It’s really sad. From all the research I’ve conducted, I have never found evidence of KellyMom being held responsible for misinformation. It’s completely irresponsible.