Is Ativan Safe During Pregnancy?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration places Ativan in Category D, which means that the drug has the potential to cause birth defects and health problems in developing babies, but that the drug might be required for some women with serious medical problems. Women with severe anxiety that cannot be treated with other medications, for example, might be encouraged to keep taking Ativan during pregnancy, under the close supervision of a doctor.
Treating anxiety during pregnancy can be challenging, especially if the mother has been using psychiatric drugs that could threaten her health or the health of her baby. Ativan, or lorazepam, belongs to a class of tranquilizing medications called benzodiazepines, which are among the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs in the US. Ativan is classified Category D drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which means that although research shows that the medication poses risks to developing infants, it may still be advisable to prescribe the drug to pregnant patients in certain cases.
Ativan is a central nervous system depressant that is prescribed to treat several serious conditions of the brain and nerves, including anxiety, insomnia, seizure disorders, muscle spasms, and alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
Ativan is also administered in hospitals or surgical centers to help patients relax before surgery. Like other drugs in the benzodiazepine family ” diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and clonazepam (Klonopin), to name a few ” Ativan has the potential to be addictive. Although Ativan is safe for most adults, use of this medication should be approached with great caution in pregnant women, especially those who have a history of substance abuse or addiction.
Risks vs. Benefits of Ativan
- Risks During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
- Health Hazards for Unborn Babies
- Ativan Abuse and Pregnancy
- Difficulty breathing
- A slack, floppy quality
In a few cases, seizures have been reported in infants who were withdrawing from the effects of benzodiazepines, but these incidents are rare. Serious signs of Ativan toxicity are more common in babies whose mothers are heavy users of this drug. Women who take Ativan with alcohol, opiates, or street drugs during pregnancy increase the risk of complications with pregnancy, premature delivery, low birth weight, and birth defects even further.
The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health states that 5.4 percent of pregnant American women were current users of illegal drugs in 2012-2013, while 0.4 percent reported that they were heavy drinkers and 15.4 percent stated that they used tobacco. During pregnancy, women need the support of compassionate professionals who understand that addiction is a disease. Professional detox and rehab programs provide the most effective ways to clear lorazepam and other drugs from a client’s system without endangering her health. Detox programs offer round-the-clock supervision and support to keep clients medically stable as they prepare to take the next steps in rehab.
Safe Treatments for Anxiety
Anxiety can be a serious problem for pregnant women, especially if the disorder is not treated, but not all treatments and medications are safe for pregnant women or their developing babies.
Safe and effective therapeutic modalities for women during pregnancy include:
- Less habit-forming medications with a lower risk of birth defects, such as antidepressants in the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) category
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a learning-based approach that helps clients unlearn negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive, self-affirming thoughts and actions
- Holistic therapies such as prenatal massage, meditation, or prenatal yoga, which provide techniques for self-relaxation
- Nutritional counseling to prevent nutrient deficiencies that might contribute to emotional stress or jeopardize the health of the mother and baby
- Psychosocial services to link pregnant women with financial and legal support, access to housing and transportation, and affordable childcare
Pregnancy shouldn’t be a stressful time of life, but for many women, the experiences surrounding pregnancy and childbirth are emotionally trying.
Unfortunately, many pregnant women do not report their symptoms to a healthcare provider or loved one, and many do not receive treatment. Women who are currently abusing prescription drugs like Ativan, or who are at risk of substance abuse, can benefit from active intervention by friends, family members, or healthcare providers.