Pregnancy, Xanax and Breastfeeding

Pregnancy can cause stress and anxiety for many women, especially those who already struggle with mental illness. To alleviate the symptoms and balance hormonal changes, women may regularly take prescribed medication such as Xanax to maintain a calm mental state. Although, there are some women who abuse Xanax during pregnancy for its euphoric highs.

Whether addicted or not, taking a prescription medication such as Xanax can be detrimental to a baby’s health and development. Anything a mother consumes passes to the baby through the placenta, and can have harmful effects if mothers don’t take proper precautions. It is important to know the risks of taking Xanax and other drugs in order to secure their health and the health of their babies.

Pregnancy, Xanax and Breastfeeding
Xanax is a popular prescription drug meant to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It works by enhancing the neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for stabilizing brain activity. Anxiety and panic disorder patients tend to have a chemical imbalance in the brain, increasing brain stimulation and inducing feelings of anxiety and fear. Xanax helps to regulate those emotions, generating feelings of calm and extreme relaxation within minutes of use.

Xanax is a benzodiazepine, a group of medications that produce a state of calm in users. The generic form, alprazolam, is the most prescribed drug in the United States. Because of its potency and effectiveness, Xanax can be highly addictive.

Some women rely on Xanax for diagnosed mental illnesses including anxiety and insomnia. During pregnancy, stress and anxiety levels may significantly increase. It’s important expectant mothers maintain stable mental and physical health for a successful pregnancy.

If women are on a daily regimen, it is important they continue to take their prescribed dosage under their physician’s guidance. Stopping cold turkey could initiate a slew of withdrawal symptoms that are dangerous for the mother and the baby. However, consult with a physician about lowering a dosage to help eliminate risk. Xanax can pose health concerns to a developing baby, specifically in the first few months of pregnancy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies every medication by the level of risk it can cause if abused or used during pregnancy. Classifications range from Category A — exhibiting no risk or harm during pregnancy — to Category X — high risk of causing fetal abnormalities and harm. Xanax falls into Category D, showing there is a chance of risk to a developing fetus although the benefits to the mother may be deemed acceptable.

Taking high doses of Xanax during pregnancy could result in congenital abnormalities in a baby. The severity of the effects greatly depend on when Xanax is taken. The first trimester is critical to a baby’s growth and development. Using Xanax during these first three months could increase the risk of a baby developing cleft lip, cleft palate, heart issues and more birth defects.

Using Xanax during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy increases the risk of withdrawal symptoms in the fetus. A baby can grow physically dependent on the drug and may exhibit breathing issues and dehydration at birth. Using Xanax later in pregnancy also increases the risk of floppy infant syndrome — weak muscles in a baby that prevent control of their head, arms and legs. This condition can last up to three weeks after birth.

Although Xanax poses high risks to a baby during pregnancy, some women rely on the drug for relief from diagnosed mental illnesses. However, Xanax is highly addictive because of its potency and immediate effects. If women grow dependent on the drug, it is imperative they seek medical assistance.

The more Xanax the mother takes, the more the baby takes. Frequent use and high doses of this prescription puts babies at risk of developing a cleft lip, a facial deformity that would need surgery within the first few days of life to fix. Babies may also struggle with nursing and breathing immediately after birth.

Severe addiction can result in dangerous withdrawal symptoms for the mother. For that reason, it is important to gradually wean off of Xanax and to consult with a licensed physician. Quitting benzodiazepines cold turkey can cause seizures and sometimes death.

Babies also have the tendency to exhibit withdrawal symptoms after birth, lasting for weeks at a time. If they have become addicted to Xanax, removing the drug from their systems can induce irritability and cause sleeping issues. Other symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal in infants include:

  • Tremors
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble regulating body temperature
  • Sedation
Xanax can be secreted from breast milk, so breastfeeding while using the drug can pose risk to babies. Prior to birth or breastfeeding, it is important to consult with a physician about medication alternatives. While an excess of Xanax in breast milk could cause sedation and low energy in babies, alternative benzodiazepines may reduce the risk because they break down in the body faster.

Therapy is also a positive alternative to taking Xanax or other benzodiazepines. Talking to a doctor or therapist can help to relieve anxiety symptoms, reducing the need for any medication and creating a safer environment for the baby.

If you are worried about using Xanax while pregnant or addiction, contact The Recovery Village today. Together with our team of medical professionals, we can discuss your options for recovery or alternatives to treatment for a healthy pregnancy. We will provide you with a personalized experience with the highest level of support and comfort. Consult with us today so we can walk this journey with you.
The road to recovery does not have to be a journey taken alone. If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol abuse, help and resources are available to provide the best treatment to aid in your recovery. The Recovery Village provides affordable and personalized care and recovery to those looking to combat alcoholism and complete rehabilitation. Consult with our trained staff today to help begin your treatment.
American Pregnancy Association. (2015, July). Abusing Prescription Drugs During Pregnancy. Retrieved from

American Pregnancy Association. (2017, February 16). Medication and Pregnancy. Retrieved from

Carter, A. (2016, June 10). Can I Take Xanax During Pregnancy? Retrieved from (2015, March 3). Alprazolam Use While Breastfeeding. Retrieved from

Greenfield, M. (n.d.). Q&A: Is Xanax Safe During Pregnancy? Retrieved from

MotherToBaby. (2014, July 18). Benzodiazepines and Pregnancy. Retrieved from

Pregnancy, Xanax and Breastfeeding
How Would You Rate This Page?
Pregnancy, Xanax and Breastfeeding was last modified: September 12th, 2017 by The Recovery Village