Hannah Lynes

NHS information on MRI/CT scans and breastfeeding

Hannah Lynes


Mother, Chair of Bromley Maternity Voices and Activist.

The Breastfeeding Network says that after an MRI (pdf) or CT (pdf) scan with contrast dye, it’s fine to continue breastfeeding. However, NHS hospital policies or patient information sometimes state that women need to stop breastfeeding for 24 hours after the scan, which can be practically difficult and can present health risks for mother and baby. I’ve searched for online information from NHS hospitals and have copied below the relevant sections. Please get in touch if you know of any other local information I could add, know that any of the information below has changed or have any other suggestions.

1)      National NHS information

NHS Choices

“Before having an MRI scan, you should tell medical staff if:

  • you think you have any metal in your body
  • you’re pregnant or breastfeeding”

NHS Direct Wales

“Before having an MRI scan, you should tell medical staff if:

  • you think you have any metal in your body
  • you’re pregnant or breastfeeding”


2) Policies that advise mothers to stop breastfeeding for a period of time


MRI: “If you are breastfeeding we advise that you do not breastfeed for 24 hours after receiving the contrast dye as a safety precaution. It is also advised that you express and discard the breast milk during this time.”

CT: “If you have had an IV contrast agent and breastfeed your child, you should wait for 24 hours after your scan before you resume breastfeeding.”

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

“Can I breastfeed after an injection? Typically patients are advised to wait for 24–48 hours after receiving a CT contrast injection before breastfeeding again.”

South Tyneside

“Please inform the radiographer if you have any allergies, have any kidney problems or are breastfeeding. It is recommended that mothers do not breastfeed for 24 hours after contrast is injected. You should express sufficient milk prior to the scan to meet your baby’s feeding requirements during this time.”


3) Policies that ask mothers to inform staff if they’re breastfeeding

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust

“If you are currently breast-feeding please inform the radiographer before a “contrast agent” is injected so they can discuss precautions you should take.”

Royal Marsden

“Please inform the radiographer if you have any allergies or you are breast-feeding.”

 Leicester Hospitals

“You must tell us, by phoning the number on your appointment letter if you have any of the following. (If you are an inpatient please ask staff on your ward to phone the MRI scanner)

  • If you have a pacemaker or defibrillator
  • If you have ever had any metal fragments in your eyes
  • If you have any implants or surgical clips in your body or head
  • If you have ever had an operation on your head, eyes, ears, heart or chest
  • If there is any chance of you being pregnant
  • If you have had an operation in the last 6 weeks
  • If you are breast feeding
  • If you have a cochlear implant.”

Imperial College Healthcare

“Please also let us know if you:

Weigh more than 18 stone (114kg), as we may need to make alternative arrangements for your appointment

Are, or think you may be, pregnant

Are breastfeeding

Are claustrophobic (the fear of having no escape and being closed in small spaces or rooms)

Find it uncomfortable lying on your front

Have had a recent MRI at another hospital”

Chesterfield Royal

“When you come for your examination please tell us about any of the following:

  • Any heart problems (e.g. very fast heart rate, angina, heart attack within the past 2 weeks).
  • An allergy or previous allergic reaction to Buscopan.
  • Gut blockage problems or a totally inactive gut (known as paralytic ileus).
  • Megacolon (a very enlarged bowel).
  • Narrow angle glaucoma.
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • An enlarged prostate, with urinary retention (difficulty/pain passing urine).
  • Diabetes.
  • Kidney problems.
  • You are pregnant, likely to become pregnant in the very near future or are breast-feeding.
  • Any medication you are taking, including herbal remedies.
  • Any allergies you have.”

Royal United Hospitals

“Breast Feeding Status

Breast Feeding ❏        Not Breast Feeding ❏”

Royal Surrey County Hospital

“Please inform the staff if you are pregnant or breast feeding.”

Southampton General Hospital

Cardiac MRI Scan: “Please contact us if:

  • You have a pacemaker, defibrillator or any other device implanted in your chest.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • You have had surgery or a procedure on your brain or spine.
  • You have had an accident with metal piercing into your eye (even if it was a long time ago).”

4) One policy that suggests it’s better not to scan breastfeeding women

Papworth Hospital

“We prefer not to scan patients who are pregnant or breast feeding unless the scan is urgent, but this will be discussed with you beforehand.”


5) One policy explains that there is no evidence of risk, but still suggests that you could express and discard the milk if you wish

Leeds Teaching Hospitals

“Can I breastfeed after the injection? Current guidelines state that it is safe to breastfeed following the injection of contrast dye as so little dye is passed to the baby via the breastmilk. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can express and discard the breast milk for 24hrs following the scan.”



This list was compiled by Hannah Lynes, based on a Google search (search terms MRI NHS breastfeeding) on 12 September 2016.


Photo credit: Liz West