Can You Take Avinza/Morphine While Pregnant?

Avinza is one version of the opioid morphine. Avinza is intended for the treatment of severe chronic pain, such as pain stemming from cancer. Since Avinza is an opioid, it affects the user’s central nervous system and changes how they respond to and feel pain. There are very high dosage strengths of Avinza available, which are only intended to be taken by people who are already opioid-tolerant. Most people wouldn’t be prescribed Avinza, because morphine is supposed to be reserved for the most painful situations.

There are two different scenarios where someone might wonder about the effects of morphine on a fetus. The first would be someone who recreationally or therapeutically takes morphine medications, like Avinza, and becomes pregnant. The second reason someone might have questions is if they’re exploring pain management options that could be available during labor and delivery.

First, taking morphine while pregnant can be very dangerous to a mother and her unborn baby. In some cases, opioids, like Avinza, might be administered during childbirth. However, they would be given in small doses and during the earliest stages of labor to reduce the risk of side effects for the mother and the baby. Since opioids can cross through the placenta during labor, they can cause side effects in the baby such as the central nervous system and respiratory depression, impaired breastfeeding early on, and changes in neurological behavior. Taking opioids during labor can also cause problems with a newborn’s ability to regulate body temperature. Always consult with your doctor before taking any medications.

Will Taking Avinza/Morphine Cause Birth Defects?

While certain opioids might be administered during labor and delivery with only minimal, temporary effects on a baby, taking opioids throughout pregnancy can be much more detrimental to the mother and child’s health. Taking opioids during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects and other side effects. Some of the effects of taking opioids during pregnancy can include:

  • Miscarriage, which is when a baby dies in the womb before the 20th week of pregnancy
  • Preterm labor that starts before the 37th week of pregnancy
  • Premature birth, which can occur because of preterm labor
  • Heart defects
  • Spinal Bifida, which is a neural tube defect
  • Fetal growth restriction
  • Low birth weight, which is when a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces

Despite the risks of consuming opioids like morphine while pregnant, there are risks to suddenly stopping using opioids as well. If a woman is dependent on opioids and she abruptly stops taking opioids, it can cause placental abruption. This is a serious pregnancy complication when the placenta separates from the uterine wall before birth. This can cause heavy bleeding that can lead to death for the mother and the child or premature birth. Suddenly stopping opioids during pregnancy can also lead to growth problems for the baby, preterm labor and stillbirth, which is when the baby dies after the 20th week of pregnancy. Rather than abruptly stopping opioid use, a woman who is dependent on opioids and becomes pregnant should consult with her medical professional about what steps to take.

Babies Born Addicted to Avinza/Morphine

Babies can be born addicted to opioids like morphine if their mother takes opioids during pregnancy. This is called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS refers to a scenario where in-womb exposure to a drug such as morphine causes the baby to experience withdrawal from the drug after birth. NAS can cause breathing problems and other complications. It’s important that if a woman does take Avinza or any other opioid during pregnancy that she speaks with her healthcare provider openly and honestly. The baby may require specialized care.

Alternatives To Taking Avinza/Morphine While Pregnant

If a woman is taking opioids regularly and may be physically dependent on them, she shouldn’t abruptly stop treatment on her own. Instead, it is recommended for her to speak with her doctor who may make different recommendations, such as taking an opioid maintenance drug or slowly and carefully tapering down the dosage of the drugs. If a woman is taking opioids for a genuine medical condition, her physician may be able to recommend a safer alternative. Sometimes, when women recreationally take opioids, they require professional addiction treatment during their pregnancy, which can include supervised detox.

In another scenario, where a woman is considering opioids during labor and delivery, she may be able to work out a different birth plan with her doctor. Typically, medical professionals will try to find other medications or other pain relief strategies before they advise the administration of an opioid during labor and delivery.

If you’re pregnant and struggling with substance use disorder, please reach out to The Recovery Village. We can help.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.