Pregnancy and Suboxone


Opioids can have serious negative effects on both a pregnant woman and her unborn child. Seeking treatment for her addiction is the best thing a mother can do for her own health and the well-being of her baby.

Methadone has been the traditional drug used to help pregnant mothers manage their addictions, but scientists are also researching the safety of using Suboxone during pregnancy.

How opioids can affect babies

Opioid substances like heroin, hydrocodone and Oxycontin cross the placenta and enter the fetal bloodstream, increasing the risk of birth defects, miscarriage, low birth weight and early labor.

After birth, these babies also suffer from drug withdrawals since they are no longer getting the drug from the mother's body. These are a few of the common signs of newborn withdrawals:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Irregular breathing pattern
  • High-pitched or frequent crying
  • Difficulty nursing
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Seizures

Is Suboxone safe to use during pregnancy?

The FDA classifies Suboxone as a pregnancy Category C drug. This rating means that animal studies have shown harmful fetal effects, but the drug's effect on human fetuses is unknown due to inadequate data from human studies.

However, recent research suggests that taking Suboxone during human pregnancy does not produce significant adverse effects, and researchers believe the drug may be safe for mothers and babies.

A health care professional will determine whether Suboxone is an appropriate choice for a pregnant woman on a case-by-case basis, and mothers who are stable on methadone should not change their regimen.

Precautions for taking Suboxone while pregnant

Notify your healthcare professional of a new pregnancy immediately. If you are already taking Suboxone and find out that you are pregnant, tell your provider immediately.

Follow your health care professional's directions exactly. Even if your provider feels that Suboxone is a good option for you during pregnancy, there are still risks associated with the medication.

Your provider will determine the safest dose for you and supervise your progress closely. Never start taking Suboxone without consulting your healthcare provider, and do not attempt to adjust your medications voluntarily.

Keep all appointments. Your primary provider should work with your obstetrician to closely monitor both your medication progress and your pregnancy. Go to all of your appointments with both providers, and never hesitate to ask questions or raise concerns.

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