Pregnancy and Breastfeeding


If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant you should talk to your physician with regards to the safety of opioid therapy during your pregnancy. These guidelines also include reproductive-aged women who are not planning a pregnancy but might be at risk of an unintended pregnancy.

If you have been taking an opioid for a long time, you should not just stop suddenly. This could cause you to go into withdrawal, which could be harmful to you and may cause harm to your pregnancy. Talk with your health care provider about the risks and benefits of continuing or stopping your medication. Any reduction in your medication needs to be done very gradually, and carefully monitored by your health care provider.

There is inadequate data on human pregnancy exposure to opioids to rule out teratogenic risks completely, although the limited data available do not indicate substantial teratogenic effects. Indiscriminate use should be avoided.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the effects of opioids on a pregnant woman and her unborn baby are not well understood. Previous research has shown that opioid analgesic use and abuse have been increasing in recent years but their effects on the developing fetus are poorly understood.

According to an ongoing, population-based study conducted by the CDC, women receiving opioid analgesic treatment in early pregnancy had a 2- to 3-fold increased risk of delivering infants with ventricular septal defects, atrioventricular septal defects; hypoplastic left heart syndrome, spina bifida, or gastroschisis. Although the absolute risk for any individual woman is relatively modest, caution should be used while pregnant.

Some studies have suggested that opioid exposure in the first trimester may be associated with heart defects and other birth defects. Based on these studies the risk appears to be small. Several other studies have not supported an increased risk for heart defects or birth defects in general. If there is an increased risk for birth defects with opioid use in pregnancy, it is likely to be small.