Can You Take Xanax While Breastfeeding Or Is It A Bad Idea?

Xanax is a pretty popular medication that doctors prescribe for use with anxiety, panic disorders and the depressive episodes that can result from both of those conditions. When pregnant, a woman is often taken off Xanax and most other medications they’re taking because it can interfere with the development of the foetus.

But what happens after pregnancy when you’ve started breastfeeding again, but the panic attacks, anxiety or depression haven’t subsided? How soon is too soon to start taking Xanax again? More​ importantly, can you take Xanax while breastfeeding? We’re going to try and answer that question by looking at;

taking  Xanax while breastfeeding
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    Why would a breastfeeding mum need to take Xanax?
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    Why shouldn’t pregnant women take Xanax?
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    Are the reasons the same for breastfeeding mums?
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    If Xanax is absolutely needed postpartum are there safe ways to take it?

Why Would A Breastfeeding Mum Need To Take Xanax?

Panic and anxiety disorders don’t tend to go away once you get pregnant. In fact, with the influx of new hormones after giving birth these disorders can often be heightened. Depression is a symptom of many anxiety disorders. Many women are prone to postpartum depression or anxiety. A few things that should be made clear about postpartum depression are;

depression or anxiety

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    Depression is not simply about feeling bad, or sad.
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    It’s affects the daily life and well being not only of the sufferer, but those in her care as well.
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    It manifes​ts as forgetfulness, aches and feelings of worthlessness.
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    A depressed mother, who also suffers from a panic disorder is not not likely to be one that’s able to provide the best care for her newborn.
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    It can lead to an inability to bond with the baby.

Women suffering from postpartum depression often feel isolated and alone. They generally don’t have the ability to process the urgency of a situation as they may be feeling it as if through a fog. Panic and anxiety don’t just manifest as fear, they will tend to make someone overreact to sometimes simple situations because the disorder will magnify small things.

Why Shouldn’t Pregnant Women Take Xanax?

 Xanax while Pregnant

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Although in a class of benzodiazepines that are not thought to be dangerous to foetal development, it is a category D pregnancy drug. This means there is a risk of birth defects, but no conclusive data. Most doctors will err on the side of caution and not prescribe Xanax to pregnant women. Alprazolam, the generic name for Xanax has been linked to;

  • Increased risk of congenital malformations.
  • Children born to mothers on high dosages suffer withdrawal symptoms at birth.
  • Can cause Floppy Infant Syndrome where the newborn will suffer from weakened musculature. The condition usually lasts about three weeks.
risk of birth defects

So the prevailing wisdom is that rather than taking a medication that may cause birth defects, avoid the possibility altogether by not taking it.

Are The Reasons The Same For Breastfeeding Mums?

Xanax while breastfeeding

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When taken, Xanax crosses the blood stream and is then secreted out in the breast milk. The symptoms of Xanax breastfeeding on the baby varies with the dosage that the mum is taking, as well as the length of time she takes it. These include but aren’t limited to;

Taking Xanax while breastfeeding is something that most doctors will caution against. Although the anxiety, depression or panic disorder may still be present and exacerbated. Breastfeeding while on Xanax has been proven to in fact more harmful to the baby.

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    Lethargy
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    Loss of weight and the inability to regain the weight.
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    Trouble latching onto the breast
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    Infant Irritability due to withdrawal when being weaned off breastmilk

If Xanax is Absolutely Needed Postpartum Is There A Safe Way To Take It?

You may not want to take a Xanax while breastfeeding for fear that it may harm your baby, however if mum is not being taken care of then neither is the baby. To that end some doctors will advise taking a single low dose immediately at the onset of anxiety and panic symptoms. Here are some things that you can do also;

way to take xanax

Alternatively there are other drugs that your physician can prescribe for you that work similarly without the risk to your baby. The side effects to mum may be greater however, although benzodiazepines are quite potent the side effects are relatively mild in comparison to others.

In the end you want what’s best for your baby, at the same time what’s best for mum usually translates to a healthy happy baby. If you feel that you absolutely need to take Xanax because of postpartum anxiety or depression, you should introduce early weaning. Doing so helps to keep both you and baby healthy.

I hope that this was helpful in answering any questions that you had about taking Xanax while breastfeeding. But as with anything concerning your health or the health of your child, always consult your physician first.

Bonus Video