Pregnancy and Methadone


Women of child-bearing age, are currently pregnant, are planning to become pregnant soon, or are breastfeeding, must consider how methadone could affect overall reproductive health and the fetus.

What are the dangers of taking Methadone while pregnant?

Methadone can certainly be dangerous to your fetus if you take it while pregnant. It may cause high birth weight, making labor and delivery difficult and dangerous. It can also increase the chance of having an overdue baby with further complications during delivery. In addition, your fetus could become addicted to the methadone, which is a weak opioid. Not only could this lead to withdrawal symptoms upon delivery, but also it could lead to vision problems. Methadone use during pregnancy has not been studied enough to determine if it could cause later learning problems in children, or if it could increase the risk of miscarriage.

Do dangers persist in the postpartum period?

Once an infant is birthed, he or she could have withdrawal symptoms if the mother used methadone during pregnancy. This is also referred to as neonatal abstinence syndrome. The infant may experience symptoms of increased sleepiness, digestive complications, increased irritability, or may hasten respiratory issues within the first couple of weeks. Breastfeeding results in continuous transferal of methadone to the infant through breast milk.

Can Methadone be used safely during pregnancy?

Your doctor will need to decide whether it would be most beneficial for you to take methadone while pregnant or if a safer treatment could suffice. If you do need to continue taking methadone while you are pregnant, your doctor will probably opt for the smallest dose possible to reduce the risk of complications for you and your baby. You will also be closely monitored by your addiction doctor and by your OB/GYN especially during the third trimester. Of course, it is far safer for both you and your baby for you to take methadone than it would be for you to take illicit opioids during this time.

Determining whether or not methadone is a good option for you prenatally or postnatally is a decision that should be made with the help of your trusted physician. He or she will need to look at several factors to determine if the benefits of using methadone as part of your treatment plan outweigh the risks of the drug to you and your baby. In addition, if you are currently on methadone and have become pregnant, be sure to schedule an appointment with your physician immediately to discuss your options.

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