Ativan (diazepam) is a prescription drug that’s used for anxiety, a type of seizure, and for sedation before surgery. Ativan may not be safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you can become pregnant, it’s important to consider whether Ativan is a safe option for you.

Ativan may not be safe to use while pregnant. In particular, if Ativan is used in the late stages of pregnancy, it can cause side effects in a newborn. These side effects may include:

  • low energy
  • respiratory depression (slowed breathing)
  • inconsolable crying
  • decreased muscle tone
  • withdrawal symptoms* such as:
    • irritability
    • restlessness
    • tremor
    • difficulty feeding

Newborns who were exposed to Ativan before birth should be monitored closely for these side effects.

If you do use Ativan while pregnant, consider signing up for the National Pregnancy Registry for Psychiatric Medications. A pregnancy registry collects data about a drug’s effects when taken during pregnancy. To learn more or sign up, call 866-961-2388 or visit the registry website.

* Withdrawal symptoms are side effects that can happen after stopping a drug that the body is dependent on.

If you’re currently breastfeeding or planning to do so, it’s important to understand the effects Ativan could have on you or your child.

It may not be safe to breastfeed while using Ativan. The drug passes into breast milk. There have been reports of benzodiazepines causing side effects in children exposed to these drugs through breast milk. Ativan belongs to the group of drugs called benzodiazepines.

Examples of these side effects include:

  • sedation (extreme sleepiness)
  • difficulty feeding
  • difficulty gaining weight

If you breastfeed during your Ativan treatment, you should monitor your child for these side effects.

If you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant, it’s important to consider how Ativan could affect your birth control needs.

Using Ativan with certain birth control pills may make Ativan less effective. Examples of these birth control pills include:

  • ethinyl estradiol/norgestimate (Estarylla, Sprintec)
  • drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol (Yasmin, Yaz)
  • ethinyl estradiol/norethindrone (Aranelle, Gildagia)

If you take Ativan with birth control pills, your doctor may prescribe a higher dose of Ativan for you. This is because birth control pills that contain ethinyl estradiol can cause your body to break down Ativan faster than usual.

Talk with your doctor if you have questions about your birth control needs during your Ativan treatment.

The sections above describe the reproductive health information provided by the drug’s manufacturer. If your doctor prescribes Ativan for you, they can provide more details.

Examples of questions you may want to ask your doctor include:

  • Are there alternatives to Ativan that are safer to take while pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • If I take Ativan while pregnant, are there ways to treat or help prevent withdrawal symptoms in my newborn?
  • If I plan on becoming pregnant soon, should I continue taking Ativan?

To learn more about Ativan, see these articles:

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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.