Pregnancy, Opioid Use Disorder & Suboxone

Opioid addiction is overwhelming without the extra stress of pregnancy. Stopping opioid use is important for the safety of both mother and baby, but attempting without the help of a doctor is even more dangerous for pregnant women.

Effects of Opioids During Pregnancy

Chronic opioid use during pregnancy is dangerous for both mother and baby, linked to:

If you used opioids while pregnant, worry and guilt are harmful. Most babies, even those born with NAS, live a healthy “normal” life, especially if the opioid use is replaced with buprenorphine. Focus on treatment and giving you and your baby a dramatically better life.

Pregnancy & Opioids FAQs

No, opioid use before or during pregnancy is not linked to autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. Neither is opioid use while breastfeeding nor the father’s opioid use.

Yes, babies and toddlers of mothers that took opioids while pregnant have significantly higher rates of ear infection (otitis media).

Breastfeeding is encouraged for women stable on anti-craving medications like buprenorphine or methadone. In the case of relapse or other opioid use, formula is a safer choice and breastfeeding should be stopped.

No, opioids are known to be dangerous during pregnancy for both mother and baby. A doctor wouldn’t prescribe opioids to a pregnant woman and would switch chronic pain patients to buprenorphine or methadone.

Some studies link opioids to lower fertility rates in women and men, but more than 20,000 babies are born in the U.S. every year dependent on opioids.

Male or female opioid use will not stop a woman from getting pregnant and in no way replaces birth control! But, if seeking fertility treatment, opioid use should be disclosed.

Effects of Opioid Withdrawal During Pregnancy

Please don’t try to stop taking opioids while pregnant without the help of a doctor!

Relapse is always hard to resist when detoxing, but it’s made worse by the chemical, physical and emotional changes of pregnancy. Any opioid use after a relapse could be avoided by seeking help. Plus, overdoses are most common after a detox attempt.

Withdrawal symptoms can be worse because the pregnancy is already taking a toll on your body. If you are not able to eat or sleep and are feeling intense anxiety, your baby is impacted by that distress. And, your baby will go through their own withdrawals too.

Going to an addiction clinic or rehab means less sickness and more long-term success.

Effects of Opioid Use & Withdrawal on Mother and Fetus

List of Serious Side Effects for Mother and Fetus for Opioid Use and Withdrawl

What happens if you test positive for opioids while pregnant?

Opioid use is usually reported to state agencies if pregnant, but what happens next depends on the state and the mother.

Read more: Testing Positive for Drugs or Alcohol While Pregnant

Treatment for Opioid Use While Pregnant

While taking opioids during pregnancy is dangerous, so is abruptly stopping opioid use. Physical withdrawals take a toll on the fetus and the risk of release is higher when pregnant.

For any patient that was taking opioids daily prior to getting pregnant, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends using buprenorphine the entire pregnancy rather than a full medical detox.

Can You Take Suboxone While Pregnant?

Suboxone patients that are pregnant are usually advised to switch to buprenorphine-only medication for the remainder of their pregnancy (known as Subutex, though that brand is no longer manufactured).

Some research shows the naloxone in Suboxone has a small risk of injury to the fetus. Though, other research shows Suboxone is perfectly safe. That said, buprenorphine alone is the standard recommendation and has been proven safe in pregnancy.

The dose of buprenorphine may need to increase throughout pregnancy.

Quitting Suboxone while Pregnant

It is not recommended to quit buprenorphine treatment during pregnancy.  Most women consider stopping because of pregnancy, but this desire is driven by social stigma and not the factual well-being of the baby.  The research is clear that both mother and baby are better off on buprenorphine.

Suboxone & Pregnancy FAQs

Probably not. Suboxone is not included on standard drug screens. It also is safe to use during pregnancy, so there would be little reason to test for it specifically.

But, Suboxone (buprenorphine) is tested for during newborn toxicology and positive results must be reported by the hospital.  If the mother does not have a legal prescription, it can lead to further investigation and actions from child welfare.

No, Suboxone does not affect fertility. The medication has no impact on a woman’s ability to get pregnant or a man’s ability to get someone else pregnant.

No. A study of 27,001 patients showed no report of false positive pregnancy tests for those who take Suboxone.

But, other mental health medications like methadone, diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax) or antipsychotics like clozapine or chlorpromazine have been linked to false positive pregnancy tests. It could also happen with a faulty test or because of timing. It’s recommended to wait one week after the expected period to take the test.

Can You Take Methadone While Pregnant?

Since the 1970s, methadone has been used to treat pregnant women struggling with opioid use.  Currently, both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society of Addiction Medicine advocate for treatment with Suboxone or methadone during pregnancy.

Getting Help for Opiods While Pregnant

Not all addiction treatment programs are able to accept pregnant patients, but women have both outpatient and inpatient options for care — including Symetria.

Getting professional medical help for opioids as early as possible can prevent negative impacts on the pregnancy or involvement from social services!

Get Help for Opioids While Pregnant in Illinois or Texas

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Symetria doctors follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, court records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and their own expertise with decades in the field.

CDC. (2021, July 21). About Opioid Use During Pregnancy. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: https://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/opioids/basics.html

Debelak, K., Morrone, W. R., O’Grady, K. E., & Jones, H. E. (2013). Buprenorphine + Naloxone in the Treatment of Opioid Dependence during Pregnancy-Initial Patient Care and Outcome Data. The American Journal on Addictions, 22(3), 252–254. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1521-0391.2012.12005.x

Drobnis, E. Z., & Nangia, A. K. (2017). Pain Medications and Male Reproduction. Impacts of Medications on Male Fertility, 39–57. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69535-8_6

Flannagan, K. S., Sjaarda, L. A., Mumford, S. L., & Schisterman, E. F. (2020). Prescription Opioid Use Among Populations of Reproductive Age: Effects on Fertility, Pregnancy Loss, and Pregnancy Complications. Epidemiologic Reviews, 42(1), 117–133. https://doi.org/10.1093/epirev/mxaa007

Horwitz, C. A., R Maslansky, Waldinger, R., & Ward. (1973, July). Effect of methadone on human pregnancy tests. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from ResearchGate website: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/18453661_Effect_of_methadone_on_human_pregnancy_tests

‌Rosen, T. S., & Johnson, H. L. (1982). Children of methadone-maintained mothers: Follow-up to 18 months of age. The Journal of Pediatrics, 101(2), 192–196. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0022-3476(82)80115-7

Suboxone and Pregnancy test false positive, a phase IV clinical study of FDA data – eHealthMe. (2022). Retrieved July 15, 2022, from Ehealthme.com website: https://www.ehealthme.com/ds/suboxone/pregnancy-test-false-positive/

‌Wolfson, J., & Lockwood, C. J. (2019). “Policing” pregnant women during the opioid epidemic. Contemporary OB/GYN Journal, 64(03). Retrieved from https://www.contemporaryobgyn.net/view/policing-pregnant-women-during-opioid-epidemic‌

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