Many women need to take medicines while they are pregnant. But not all medicines are safe during pregnancy. Many medicines carry risks for you, your baby, or both. Opioids, especially when misused, can cause problems for you and your baby while you are pregnant.
Opioids, sometimes called narcotics, are a type of drug. They include strong prescription pain relievers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and tramadol. The illegal drug heroin is also an opioid.
A health care provider may give you a prescription opioid to reduce pain after you have had a major injury or surgery. You may get them if you have severe pain from health conditions like cancer. Some health care providers prescribe them for chronic pain.
Prescription opioids used for pain relief are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by your health care provider. However, opioid dependence, addiction, and overdose are still potential risks. These risks increase when these medicines are misused. Misuse means you are not taking the medicines according to your provider's instructions, you are using them to get high, or you are taking someone else's opioids.
Taking opioids during pregnancy can cause problems for you and your baby. The possible risks include
Some women need to take opioid pain medicine while they are pregnant. If your health care provider suggests that you take opioids during pregnancy, you should first discuss the risks and benefits. Then if you both decide that you need to take the opioids, you should work together to try to minimize the risks. Some of the ways to do this include
If you have been taking opioids and you become pregnant, contact your health care provider. You should not stop taking the opioids on your own. If you suddenly stop taking opioids, it could cause severe health problems for you or your baby. In some cases, stopping suddenly during pregnancy may be more harmful than taking the medicines.
Many women who regularly take opioid medicines can breastfeed. It depends on which medicine you are taking. Check with your health care provider before breastfeeding.
There are some women who should not breastfeed, such as those who have HIV or take illegal drugs.
If you are pregnant and have an opioid use disorder, do not stop taking opioids suddenly. Instead, see your health care provider so you can get help. The treatment for opioid use disorder is medication-assisted therapy (MAT). MAT includes medicine and counseling: