Pregnant woman holding pills

Methadone and Pregnancy: Opioid Addiction During Pregnancy

February 1, 2021

When a woman suffers from an opioid use disorder and becomes pregnant, treatment is of the utmost importance to protect both mother and child. Fortunately, medications, such as methadone, can help control drug cravings and are safe for pregnant women to use.

Can You Get Pregnant While on Methadone?

Yes, you can get pregnant while on methadone.  Methadone has been used as the treatment of choice for many years for pregnant women with opioid use disorders.

Why Do Doctors Put Pregnant Mothers on Methadone?

When a pregnant woman has an opioid use disorder, her health and that of her unborn child are in jeopardy. Opioid abuse leads to a much higher risk of pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia, blood clots, and hemorrhaging. If left untreated, this could lead to premature birth or death of the baby. Women who are actively abusing opioids are often at greater risk of infections, such as HIV or hepatitis, both of which can also endanger an unborn child. If a pregnant woman is put on methadone, this will provide a safer pregnancy while also increasing her quality of life, enabling her to focus on pregnancy and recovery. It will also control her cravings to use opioids while helping to minimize any potential withdrawal symptoms.

Is it Safe to Breastfeed While on Methadone?

Generally, yes, it is safe to breastfeed while on methadone. When a mother taking methadone breastfeeds, the baby might not need to stay in the hospital after birth with needless medications as long as the children of mothers who do not breastfeed. Mothers who are on methadone and breastfeed will secrete minimal amounts of methadone in their breast milk. However, studies indicate that this methadone in breastmilk is not dangerous for babies. It is important to note that breastfeeding is not appropriate in every case, such as when infections like HIV are present in the mother that could be passed on to her baby through breastfeeding.

Can Methadone Use Affect Pregnancy?

Methadone use cannot negatively affect a woman’s pregnancy; as mentioned above, it is entirely safe to use during pregnancy and is recommended by many medical professionals for women suffering from an opioid use disorder.

How Methadone Impacts Newborns

When a woman is actively using opioids, she puts her baby at risk of negative consequences, including lower birth weight and smaller head circumference. If she uses methadone to help control her opioid use disorder, she also reduces the chance of withdrawal and giving birth prematurely. Also, she can avoid infections, such as HIV and hepatitis, that could hurt her child. Using needles to inject opioids can still cause those infections.

Will Taking Methadone Make it Harder for Me to Get Pregnant?

Studies have shown that continuing to use opioids illicitly results in lower fertility in both men and women. However, using methadone appropriately is not associated with infertility. Women can and do get pregnant while on methadone. When a woman first begins taking methadone, she may have some irregular menstrual periods, but this usually goes away after taking methadone for a few months.

Does Taking Methadone Increase the Chance for Miscarriage?

Methadone does not increase a woman’s risk of miscarriage and is safe to use during pregnancy under a doctor’s supervision. However, if a woman misuses opioids, she is at greater risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. If she stops using methadone, she could experience withdrawal, which can trigger a miscarriage. Therefore, it is critically important that a pregnant woman never stop taking methadone without being closely monitored by a physician.

Does Taking Methadone Increase the Chance of Birth Defects?

There is no relationship between legal methadone use and birth defects in newborns. However, suppose a pregnant woman doesn’t use a form of medication-assisted treatment like methadone and continues to engage in opioid use. In that case, her child is at greater risk of developmental delays, low birth weight, and premature birth. Also, if she uses opioids illicitly, her child is likely to be born dependent on opioids and experience neonatal abstinence syndrome, resulting, in some cases, in such complications as seizures, tremors, difficulty in feeding, and irritability. While some babies have mild symptoms of withdrawal when their mothers are on methadone, the use of methadone dramatically reduces the discomfort and complications that infants would otherwise experience.

Could Taking Methadone Cause Other Pregnancy Complications?

Methadone does not have any associations with pregnancy complications. A woman is at much greater risk of pregnancy complications if she does not use methadone and continues to use opioids. If she has an untreated opioid use disorder, using medication-assisted treatment, such as methadone, provides her and her baby the best chance of a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. The most important thing to know about methadone and children is that parents should keep methadone completely out of the reach of children, as a child ingesting methadone can be fatal. If you or a loved one is pregnant and in need of an opioid detox treatment center in Florida, Summer House is an option that should consider for treatment. Summer House is a Miami, Florida methadone detox program that can assist you in starting medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders in a safe, comfortable, and home-like environment. Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. The purpose of this blog is not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. On the subject of safe or legal services, products, and appropriate therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case to case basis.
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