Is it safe to take Xanax while breastfeeding?
Parenthood is a time when all experiences are new. We are given a lot of information (much of it conflicting) and advice. It feels like there is pressure to get everything ‘right’ every time – to keep our child healthy and to be seen as a ‘good’ mother. Add into the mix the fact that we are usually sleep deprived, exhausted and having difficulty concentrating, and it is very understandable that anxiety is common in mothers, especially those with young babies.
Given the many benefits of breastfeeding, some women taking psychiatric medications may wish to nurse their infants. When making this decision, several variables must be considered. These include the known and unknown risks of medication exposure for the baby via breast milk, the effects of untreated illness in the mother, and the benefits of and maternal preferences for breastfeeding. There are established health benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers.
Postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety is a reality faced by many! While it is easy to take a medicine like alprazolam or Xanax to ease the jangling nerves, give a thought about how wise it is to do while breastfeeding.
What is Xanax used for?
Xanax (a brand name of the generic drug alprazolam) is a commonly prescribed medication used to treat anxiety associated with panic disorder, depression and other mental conditions. Xanax is associated with fetal malformations and withdrawal. It belongs to benzodiazepines drug class that includes drugs known to enter the breast milk.
If you are taking Xanax and find out you are pregnant, contact your physician immediately.
Brand names may include Xanax XR, Xanax and Niravam.
To have a deeper understanding, let us learn some more vital facts about Xanax.
- It is one of the most popularly prescribed psychiatric medications in the US.
- You can find Xanax in four basic dosage strengths 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg and 2mg in the market.
- Xanax comes in a bar-shaped pill (commonly called Xanax bars) that is scored so it can be broken into smaller doses.
- Xanax pills are white, but the generic form of the drug may be yellow or green.
- With the same dosage, Xanax is 20 times more potent than another benzodiazepine Valium.
- The medication works by elevating the levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in the human brain. It promotes calmness and makes you feel relaxed.
- The quick-acting effect and short half-life make people addicted to Xanax.
Abrupt discontinuation of this medication leads to withdrawal symptoms like tremors, sweating, depression, suicidal thoughts, and headache. Even your baby can show the withdrawal symptoms like irritability, crying, and sleep disturbances.
Can You Take Xanax While Breastfeeding?
Because of reports of effects in infants, including sedation, alprazolam is probably not the best benzodiazepine for repeated use during nursing, especially with a neonate or premature infant. A shorter-acting benzodiazepine without active metabolites is preferred. After a single dose of alprazolam, there is usually no need to wait to resume breastfeeding.
It is advised to avoid Xanax during the lactation period. Because the drug enters infants in small amounts through breastmilk. Even though the ingested dosages are not lethal, they can cause respiratory issues and sedation in babies. Do mention to your physician that you are breastfeeding before they prescribe any medication to you. If your healthcare provider still recommends Xanax while nursing, watch for side effects in your baby.
Some common health discomforts that the baby experiences as a result of Alprazolam are:
- Weight loss
- Feeding problems or refusal to breastfeed
An overdose of Xanax during breastfeeding may result in mild to severe health troubles. This includes drowsiness, headache, confusion, impaired coordination and body pain. A combined overdose with alcohol, illicit drugs or antidepressants may result in high toxicity.
Xanax may increase the prolactin levels, thereby, boosting the milk production. But the increase in the prolactin level decreases progesterone levels, affecting hormone levels and mood.
It is imperative to take only the prescribed dosage of Xanax during both pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Note: Remember, a doctor’s prescription is required to take any medication during breastfeeding.
Side Effects Of Taking Xanax While Breastfeeding
The side effects range from mild to severe and depend on the dosage. Most side effects are innocuous. They tend to fade away over time. Seek medical attention immediately after experiencing any side effects.
Most common side effects of Xanax include:
Swelling of extremities
Changes in libido
Changes in vision
Severe side effects include:
Short-term memory loss
Typical signs of allergy are – breathing problems and swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat.
Any side effect or allergy associated with Xanax should be reported to the prescribing physician
Can A Nursing Mother Take A Low Dose Of Xanax?
A single dose of Xanax need not stop a lactating mother from breastfeeding. If you have to take a single Xanax dose, for the 14-hour period.
Pump out the milk and discard for 14 hours after taking medicine, to ensure that Xanax is out of your system and signal the breasts to continue milk production. Then, you can resume breastfeeding.
However, regular ingestion of the medication can cause several health complexities in your baby. If you have to use Xanax regularly for a period, and if your physician feels that the benefits of Xanax outweigh breastfeeding, which is rarely the case, you may have to consider arranging donor milk for your baby, or weaning your baby or offer formula milk.
Further, consult the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or your doctor if you can get another drug. The alternatives for Xanax include Lorazepam, and Oxazepam.
Note: Inform your doctor about all the medications you are taking before he prescribes Xanax.
Tips To Manage Anxiety While Breastfeeding
It is common to feel stressed out and nervous during your lactation period. Opt for one of these natural ways to cope with it:
- Take time out from your busy routine to indulge in recreational activities. Such as listening to music, practicing yoga, meditation or getting a body massage done. Listening to music while breastfeeding is known to calm the nerves and increase milk supply.
- Do not hesitate to seek help from your partner or a family member to baby.
- Take in a well-balanced diet and do not skip your meals. Energy-boosting foods help remain active.
- Limit caffeine avoid alcohol completely. They can easily aggravate anxiety and cause panic attacks.
- Sleep well and rest enough. Resting helps you get rid of harmful toxins.
- Remain positive and welcome humor in life. Negative thoughts lead to depression.
- Talk to your friends and family. Let them know how you feel about parenting your new-born baby.
Baby’s doctor will generally know more about the effects of medications on infants and young children, and whether a medication is typically given directly to infants or young children. Your baby’s doctor will also be aware of any particular health concerns that your baby has with respect to a particular medication.
Also read – Diet guide for Breastfeeding mother