Duragesic While Pregnant: What You Need to Know
Can You Take Duragesic While Pregnant?
Duragesic is a powerful prescription pain medication. Duragesic is only intended to be prescribed when a patient has severe pain that can’t be managed with a non-opioid medicine. Duragesic is a patch that delivers fentanyl directly into the skin. There are very limited scenarios in which Duragesic is supposed to be prescribed, for several different reasons. First, Duragesic has strong effects on the central nervous system. This can lead to a fatal overdose due to respiratory depression. Opioids are also highly addictive. The prescribing of opioid pain medications has given rise to the severe and deadly opioid epidemic in the U.S. Since fentanyl is the active ingredient in Duragesic, it’s particularly potent and dangerous when it’s used outside of how it’s prescribed. Fentanyl is estimated to be 100 times stronger than morphine, and it’s one of the strongest opioids available by prescription.
Can you take Duragesic while you are pregnant? It’s not likely that a doctor would prescribe a patient something like Duragesic during pregnancy because of risks of dependence, addiction and harmful effects on the fetus. If a woman is abusing opioids and becomes pregnant, she should speak with her doctor. Sometimes it can be dangerous to suddenly stop using opioids “cold turkey,” especially one as strong as fentanyl. The complications of stopping suddenly can lead to serious complications and can even be deadly. It is important to speak with your doctor if you use opioids and become pregnant so that, together, you can find a safer solution for you and your baby.
Duragesic has several negative effects on the pregnant woman and the baby. Duragesic can affect lead to respiratory depression in the mother and there are many different birth defects linked to the use of opioids during pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the use of opioid analgesics (pain medications) during pregnancy may increase the risks of spina bifida for the baby. It can also increase the chances of hydrocephaly, a buildup of fluid in the brain, and glaucoma. Gastroschisis may be more likely in babies who are exposed to opioids in the womb, as can congenital heart defects.
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Along with birth defects, there is a high risk that a baby born to a mother uses opioids during pregnancy will be addicted at birth with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). This is especially true when the mother uses Duragesic or other opioids during the third trimester. This condition can be mild or severe, and symptoms can occur soon after birth, a few days after birth, or even weeks after birth. Symptoms of NAS include muscle rigidity, a high-pitched cry, tremors and convulsions. Babies born addicted to Duragesic may be very fussy or cry excessively. Breathing problems can occur, and a baby may require an opioid reversal or breathing treatments. Other symptoms can include sleep disturbances, problems with feeding, fever, diarrhea, throwing up, and sweating. When a baby is born addicted to Duragesic, they will need specialized medical care in the NICU. This care can last for days, weeks, or longer depending on the severity of symptoms and how the baby responds to treatment.
If a woman is pregnant and she requires pain medicine, it’s not likely that her doctor will recommend or prescribe opioids. Opioids, in general, are supposed to be reserved for only very limited situations in order to reduce the risk of dependence, addiction, and overdose. A doctor may advise other pain management options. If a woman is already taking Duragesic when she becomes pregnant, she will probably need to taper down her dosage of the drug slowly to avoid withdrawal complications. This should only be done under the supervision of a medical professional. Some pregnant women will require a medically-assisted detox so they can be safe and comfortable as they stop using opioids. Following this, a pregnant woman may benefit from a professional addiction treatment program since fentanyl is so powerful and difficult to break free from. These are all options that should be discussed openly and honestly with a healthcare provider –for the health of the mother and the unborn baby.
To learn more about addiction treatment, including during pregnancy, contact The Recovery Village. We’d like to help you find options that are right for you or your loved one.