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  • Can You Take Xanax (Alprazolam) While Breastfeeding? | Breastfeeding Warnings

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    Can You Take Xanax (Alprazolam) While Breastfeeding? | Breastfeeding Warnings

    Half of all breastfeeding women in the United States (about 1.5 million women) take some sort of medication during lactation. Many are on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to manage postpartum depression, panic attacks, and the stress of being a new mom. 

    Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a prescription medication used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. It’s the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine—followed by lorazepam (Ativan)—but isn’t the safest drug to take while breastfeeding

    Studies show that a small amount of Xanax gets into your breast milk, so your infant will likely ingest some of it, and it may have adverse effects on their behavior, sleep, and health

    Xanax abuse increases the amount of alprazolam in breast milk and is dangerous to the nursing infant and its mother.

    Effects Of Xanax On A Nursing Infant

    A nursing infant who ingests Xanax (alprazolam) through breast milk may be fussier or less engaged in the world around them. Xanax can cause irritability, drowsiness, and sedation in a baby. 

    In severe cases, breastfeeding while taking Xanax can affect the baby’s breathing and cause feeding problems that lead to weight loss or poor weight gain.

    If a baby is regularly breastfed with milk containing Xanax, they’re likely to have withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug or stop nursing. Xanax withdrawal in a baby is typically shown in more crying, irritability, and poor sleep.

    Effects Of Xanax On A Nursing Mother

    Xanax increases the hormone prolactin in a nursing mother. Prolactin helps you make milk, so your milk production may go up while you’re taking Xanax. However, because the drug affects your mood and hormones in other ways, it can make breastfeeding more difficult.

    Taking Xanax while breastfeeding may produce a milky discharge from the nipples (galactorrhea) as well as a lack of menstrual periods (amenorrhea).

    Xanax use during nursing can also cause these common side effects:

    • irritability
    • difficulty concentrating
    • drowsiness
    • dizziness
    • nausea
    • constipation
    • joint pain

    Benzodiazepines are recommended for short-term use, as long-term use may cause adverse effects on your health. 

    Taking benzodiazepines long-term is linked with cognitive impairment, including:

    • slow reaction time
    • memory problems
    • lack of coordination
    • persistent drowsiness
    • loss of control of body movements (ataxia)

    The Dangers Of Xanax Abuse While Breastfeeding

    Xanax abuse is taking more of the drug than prescribed (longer, more often, or in high doses) or taking it without a prescription. Women who abuse Xanax while breastfeeding put themselves and their babies in danger.

    Abusing Xanax can lead to worse and more frequent side effects. Side effects and long-term health problems may make it more difficult for a mother to care for her child. 

    If a mother has trouble concentrating or feels irritable, it can affect her ability to breastfeed by slowing down her milk flow or letdown. Memory problems might cause overfeeding or underfeeding if a mother doesn’t remember the last time her infant was nursed or recognize the baby’s hunger cues.

    If a nursing mother has severe Xanax side effects while nursing, she may not be able to hold her baby safely. Severe side effects include:

    • confusion
    • lack of balance or coordination
    • shortness of breath
    • seizures

    The more Xanax you take while breastfeeding, the more it enters your breast milk and the greater the negative effect it can have on your baby. 

    Alternatives To Xanax While Breastfeeding

    Some medical advice says you should stop breastfeeding if you’re using Xanax, but if you’re determined to nurse your baby, you may be able to take a safer medication.

    Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed to breastfeeding mothers who struggle with anxiety and panic disorders. Sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil) are two of the safest. 

    Research shows that only a small amount of these drugs enter the breast milk and they’re unlikely to affect your baby.

    Of course, always check with your healthcare provider to discuss the best options for you.

    Treatment For Xanax Abuse

    If you’re abusing Xanax while breastfeeding, talk to an addiction treatment professional right away.

    At Ark Behavioral Health, we offer inpatient and outpatient Xanax rehab programs that are tailored to your needs. You’ll experience a blend of therapies that promote whole-person healing, such as behavioral therapy, support groups, yoga, and art therapy. 

    Once you’ve learned to live a healthy life without Xanax, you can transition to a lower level of care or receive aftercare that supports your recovery in everyday life. 

    To learn more, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    American Family Physician - Risks Associated With Long-Term Benzodiazepine Use
    Drug Enforcement Administration - Benzodiazepines
    National Library of Medicine: LactMed - Alprazolam
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Alprazolam
    New York Times - Is It Safe To Take That Medication While Breastfeeding?

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