Is It Safe To Take Alprazolam Or Xanax During Pregnancy?

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Some medicines are safe to take during pregnancy, but some need to be avoided. So, in which category does Xanax (Alprazolam) fall? MomJunction tells you if it is safe to use Xanax while pregnant, how it can affect you and what are the alternatives for the drug.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, which is a benzodiazepine drug approved by the FDA. It is used for treating anxiety disorders as benzodiazepine helps in calming the central nervous system (1). The drug helps in treating panic disorders, managing the anxiety caused by depression and offers short-term relief from anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety is a common problem during pregnancy but do doctors prescribe Xanax?

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Is Xanax Safe During Pregnancy?

Xanax is not recommended during pregnancy because it can have an adverse effect on your fetus. It is a pregnancy category D drug, which means that Xanax is known to have adverse reactions in humans.

Xanax reaches the fetus through the bloodstream and makes the baby addicted to this drug. Not just that, the drug can harm you in each stage of pregnancy.

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How Can Xanax Affect Your Pregnancy?

Let’s see how Xanax can affect you in each trimester:

During the first trimester

Taking Xanax during the first trimester can lead to birth defects, such as cleft palate and cleft lip, in your baby (2). It could affect the baby’s looks, body functions, and development. Xanax is assumed to carry an increased risk of congenital abnormalities when administered during the first trimester.

During the second and third trimesters

Taking Xanax during the second and third trimester can lead to:

[ Read: Stress During Pregnancy ]

1. Withdrawal syndrome lasting for several weeks or months (3):

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Weight loss
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and smell
  • Mood changes

Withdrawal symptoms in babies include: (4)

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Restlessness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble feeding
  • Irritability
  • Skin problems
  • Poor weight gain
  • Sweating
  • Stuffy nose
  • Stiffness of arms and legs
  • Twitching and trembling

2. Floppy infant syndrome effects can last two to three weeks after the birth of the child. The baby will have:

  • weak muscles
  • poor control over their head, arms and legs, giving your baby a doll-like appearance (5).
  • a low Apgar score (a measure of the physical condition of your baby). Low Apgar score can lead to difficulty in breathing and variation in heart rates and body temperature.

If you have been on Xanax medication when you got pregnant, then ask your doctor about how and when you should stop taking the drug.

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[ Read: Medication To Avoid During Pregnancy ]

When To Talk To Your Doctor?

When you meet your doctor, talk to him about managing your condition during pregnancy. Ask questions such as:

  • How safely can I stop using Xanax?
  • How long before getting pregnant should I stop taking Xanax?
  • Is it safe to take Xanax while breastfeeding?
  • What are the other ways to help relieve my anxiety during pregnancy?

Based on your condition, the doctor will guide you on safer alternatives to Xanax during pregnancy.

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What Are The Alternatives To Xanax?

Some of the safer treatments you can opt for anxiety during pregnancy are:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): They help relieve anxiety and are safe to use during pregnancy. The SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa) and fluoxetine (Prozac) (6).
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): It helps relieve panic disorder or anxiety during pregnancy. This is a kind of talk therapy where you interact with a therapist (7).

Other suitable options are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Reiki
  • Siddha medicine
  • Exercise
  • Diet changes
  • Meditation
  • Massage therapy
  • Natural supplements and herbal remedies (probiotics, L-theanine – an amino acid safe to use during pregnancy)
  • Yoga

Make sure to consult your doctor before going for any alternative remedies for anxiety. Also, you need to be prepared to face Xanax withdrawal symptoms.

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How To Manage Xanax Withdrawal?

The longer you have been using this drug, the more difficult it may be for you to get back to normalcy. Here are some simple tips that can help you go through the situation:

  • Talk to your partner. Share your fears and feelings.
  • Join online groups where you can share your experience and seek support from similar people.
  • Keep yourself busy throughout the day.
  • Follow fitness regimes like yoga and meditation.
  • Learn to stay happy.

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[ Read: Antacid During Pregnancy ]

How Are Anxiety And Pregnancy Correlated?

If anxiety remains untreated, it can certainly adversely impact your pregnancy. You may miss your OB visits, eat poorly, or get into habits such as smoking and drinking. This can pose a potential risk to your pregnancy, such as (8), (9):

  • Premature delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Impact on central nervous system of the child
  • Inhibited cognitive function in infants
  • Lack of concentration

Try non-invasive methods such as yoga and meditation. Seek the support of your family and close friends. Let your partner know what you are going through because the well-being of your baby depends on your well-being.

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Do share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Dr. Christian Pope

Dr. Christian Pope is Board-certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He is a long-standing medical staff member and past chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Luke's Hospital of SouthCoast Hospitals in New Bedford, Massachusetts and is in private group practice at Hawthorn Medical Associates, Inc. He is a member... more

shreeja pillai

Shreeja holds a postgraduate degree in Chemistry and diploma in Drug Regulatory Affairs. Before joining MomJunction, she worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. As a writer, she aims at providing informative articles on health and pharma, especially related to... more