Xanax (alprazolam) is a type of drug called a benzodiazepine.
It’s FDA-approved for:
Xanax can help relieve anxiety. But if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the drug may actually cause concerns.
You may wonder… is it safe to take Xanax during pregnancy?
Check out the answer and learn other ways to manage your anxiety safely during pregnancy.
Xanax is not safe to take during pregnancy.
It’s a pregnancy category D drug, which means it can harm your pregnancy.
The effects on a pregnancy depend on when in the pregnancy you take Xanax. It can cause serious problems throughout your entire pregnancy, though, so you should avoid it during all three trimesters.
During the first trimester
Taking Xanax during your first trimester (months 1 to 3) of pregnancy could pose possible risks of raising your baby’s chance for birth defects, according to
These birth defects could affect the way your baby looks, develops, or functions for the rest of their life.
More research is needed to gather more definitive insight regarding the use of Xanax during this stage of pregnancy.
During the second and third trimesters
Taking Xanax during your second or third trimesters (months 4 to 9) of pregnancy can cause withdrawal syndrome in your baby. This is because Xanax can cause emotional or physical dependence or addiction in your baby.
Little research exists on withdrawal in newborns, but problems could include trouble breathing, trouble eating on their own, and dehydration. These effects could last several days. It’s not known what longer-lasting effects could occur.
Taking Xanax later in your pregnancy can also cause floppy infant syndrome, which means your baby may have weak muscles. They may not be able to control their head, arms, and legs, giving them a rag-doll-like appearance. This condition may last 2 to 3 weeks after birth.
Withdrawal and floppy infant syndrome could cause your baby to have a low Apgar score.
An Apgar score is a measure of the physical condition of your baby. A low score can mean problems with your baby’s breathing, heart rate, or body temperature.
Xanax is a Schedule 4 controlled substance, which means the federal government regulates its use.
Xanax is regulated because it can cause emotional or physical dependence or addiction, even when used as prescribed. Xanax can cause withdrawal symptoms such as:
- mood shifts
- trouble sleeping
- muscle cramps
Withdrawal symptoms can last up to several weeks or months. To help prevent withdrawal symptoms during pregnancy, ask your doctor how long prior to getting pregnant should you stop taking Xanax.
Your doctor will guide you on how to stop your use of Xanax safely.
If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about treatment options other than Xanax for your anxiety.
Your doctor may suggest a medication from a different drug class.
For instance, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) also help relieve anxiety and have been shown to be safer during pregnancy. Examples of SSRIs include escitalopram (Lexapro) and fluoxetine (Prozac).
It’s important to note that Lexapro and Prozac along with their generic forms are category C medications. It’s recommended that category C medications be used with caution if their benefits outweigh their risks.
Your doctor may suggest cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a form of talk therapy that a therapist facilitates. CBT can also help relieve symptoms of anxiety or panic disorder.
Your doctor may suggest other alternative treatment options, too.
You should avoid taking Xanax during your pregnancy. However, you should still be sure to get treatment for your anxiety or panic disorder.
Your doctor can help you find the best alternative treatment to meet your healthcare needs.
Having a baby is a joyful experience for many women, but it can possibly cause more stress in your life. You’ll want to make sure you have a good system lined up to help manage your anxiety through this time.
An untreated anxiety disorder can cause serious problems for your pregnancy as well.
For instance, anxiety or panic disorder may prevent you from getting good prenatal care.
Your symptoms may cause you to:
- miss doctors’ visits
- eat foods with limited nutrient value
- turn to coping habits such as smoking or drinking alcohol
These behaviors could cause problems such as premature birth, low birth weight, and other issues.
Proper treatment of your anxiety condition can help prevent these problems and ensure a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.
While you are not taking Xanax, you may find other treatment and support methods that your healthcare team has recommended helpful.
If your doctor has prescribed Xanax for an off-label use, such as seizure prevention, talk with them about how best to manage your condition during pregnancy.
Xanax is harmful to a developing baby no matter what you take it for.
To learn more about Xanax, anxiety problems, and pregnancy, talk with your doctor. Be sure to ask any questions you may have, such as:
- How can I safely stop using Xanax?
- How long before I get pregnant should I stop taking Xanax?
- Can I take Xanax while breastfeeding?
- Are there other ways to help relieve my anxiety or panic symptoms during pregnancy, such as exercise or acupuncture?
Your doctor can help you get safe treatment for your anxiety condition. This will help you look forward to a pregnancy that’s healthy for you and your baby.