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X-rays, scans and breastfeeding

What to do if you are breastfeeding and need an x-ray or scan.

Woman having scan

If you are breastfeeding and need to have an x-ray or scan, you may be worried about how it may affect your breastmilk and your baby.   

Common x-rays and scans

Usually, you won't need to avoid breastfeeding on the day you have an X-ray, MRI, CT, Angiogram, Ultrasound or Mammogram. These examinations do not affect breastfeeding. Sometimes a radiological contrast dye is used to help the imaging but you can keep breastfeeding with this too.  

Nuclear medicine

If you are having a nuclear medicine scan (eg bone, VQ, myocardial perfusion or parathyroid scan), you may need to limit breastfeeding and close contact with your baby, 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, you may need to stop breastfeeding for a period of time. This will depend on how long your body takes to lose the radioactivity naturally. You can express before the scan and give this milk to your baby while you are waiting for this to happen.  

During this waiting time, you can also express and store your breastmilk. In time your breastmilk will also lose its radioactivity so you will be able to feed it to your baby after the waiting period. 

Let doctors know. Get all the information

If you tell your doctors that you are breastfeeding, they may be able to plan for a type of x-ray or scan that allows for this. They can discuss with you any possible alternative x-rays or scans which might let you keep breastfeeding.  

For current and individual information about x-rays, scans and breastfeeding, contact the Medicines Information Centres in your state. 

You may also find more information from Inside Radiology, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists website for patients. 


The information on this website does not replace advice from your health care provider.

© Australian Breastfeeding Association April 2022