Is Methadone Safe for Pregnant Women to Take?
As a soon-to-be mother, your biggest concern should be the health of your developing child. This means you will need to get over your opioid addiction, fast.
One of the main ways to overcome such an addiction is to take methadone. It’s a drug that binds to the opioid receptors in your brain, preventing withdrawal symptoms as well as the effects of other opioid drugs.
However, is methadone safe to take when you are pregnant?
Benefits of Methadone for Mothers
If you are addicted to opiates, methadone will have a large amount of benefits for you. In particular, it can:
- Reduce cravings
- Prevent withdrawal symptoms
- Prevent you from getting high on other opiates
- Improve your emotional health, physical health, and overall quality of life-saving
By taking care of your body, you will be able to increase your chances of having a healthy and happy child. For example, mothers who take methadone have a much lower chance of:
- Developing and passing on infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis
- Having pregnancy complications like miscarriage or spontaneous abortion
- Having a child with neurobehavioral problems or low birth weight
Drawbacks of Methadone for Babies
However, just because methadone has benefits for the mother, does not mean it is completely safe for the growing baby. When a mother takes methadone, it will be transmitted to the baby through the placenta.
Over time, the baby will begin to become dependent on methadone. Once it is time to give birth and the baby is separated from the mother, it will actually begin to go through withdrawal.
This problem is know as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and can require your baby to stay in the hospital longer than usual. While it’s not a devastating illness, it can cause your baby a number of symptoms, including:
- hypersensitivity or hyperirritability
- problems sleeping
- problems breathing
- low-grade fever
Even with these drawbacks, statistics show that babies born to mothers on methadone fare far better than babies born to mothers on heroin.
What About Breastfeeding?
Even after your baby is born, you still have to consider the consequences of breastfeeding.
Luckily, not much methadone ends up in breast milk. Levels can range from a mere 21 to 314 ng/mL, which is not enough to cause any negative effects in the baby.
In fact, if your baby is suffering from NAS, the methadone in breast milk can actually help to reduce symptoms.
However, it is important to slowly wean your child off of breast milk when you want to stop breastfeeding. If you try to abruptly discontinue breastfeeding, you risk causing them to develop NAS.
Alternatives to Methadone
If you’re still a bit worried about how methadone will affect your unborn child, there are alternative medicines you can try taking.
One clinical trial called the Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research (MOTHER) took a look at a drug called buprenorphine.
It found that babies experienced milder NAS than those who were born from mothers on methadone.
Therefore, if you are new to treatment, you might want to consider buprenorphine.
However, if you have been on methadone for some time, switching in the middle of your treatment is not recommended.
Overall, the data is pretty clear – methadone is not overtly dangerous for pregnant mothers. While your baby might have a rough start to life, the advantages you will provide them from being healthy and safe drastically outweigh the potential downsides.
If you’re ready to start on your drug-recovery journey, don’t let pregnancy stop you. If anything, being pregnant means it’s time to take action right away so your baby can be born healthy. Call us today at 800-891-9360 to find a treatment center near you.