While many doctors often advise certain expecting mothers to stop taking prescription medications, such as benzodiazepines, throughout their pregnancy, they may continue their doses after giving birth. While prescribed medications can be safe when taken under the guidance of a doctor, many mothers are questioning whether taking benzodiazepines and breastfeeding is safe.
At our drug and alcohol rehab in Massachusetts, we are constantly learning more about drug abuse and how even controlled prescription drugs can pose health problems. That’s why our Banyan Massachusetts team decided to take a closer look into the possible dangers of taking benzos while breastfeeding.
Benzos, or benzodiazepines, are synthetic drugs that are prescribed by doctors to treat nerve-related conditions including seizures and anxiety. Benzos work by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is known as an inhibitory neurotransmitter because, unlike other neurotransmitters, it blocks certain messages sent between cells and decreases brain activity. Because benzos increase GABA levels, brain activity is affected. Individuals who struggle with conditions related to increased nerve activity can benefit from prescription benzos.
Like any other prescription drug, benzodiazepines can be addictive. Benzo drug abuse symptoms can include a host of health problems, sometimes even irreversible damage. At Banyan Treatment Centers Massachusetts, we offer benzo addiction programs that specifically treat the symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction.
While benzodiazepines are beneficial for treating certain conditions, it may affect other bodily functions such as breastfeeding and lactation. It’s not uncommon for women to take benzos during their pregnancy, especially if they suffer from seizures or panic disorders; however, research has shown that taking benzodiazepines and breastfeeding around the same time can be dangerous. Substances like drugs or alcohol that are ingested while breastfeeding can contaminate breast milk. This could be extremely harmful to the baby. A recent study reported that taking benzos while breastfeeding can cause lethargy, sedation, and even weight loss in infants.1 While researchers continue studying the effects of benzos on a fetus, any sort of substance that can contaminate breast milk has the potential to negatively impact the child as well.
So, is it safe to take benzos while breastfeeding? Although taking benzos during pregnancy may be necessary for people with serious neurological or nerve-related health conditions, taking benzos while breastfeeding isn’t recommended. The mother may not have any adverse effects caused by the medication, but the baby can be affected by drugs that make their way into breast milk.
Prescription drugs like benzos can be controlled by doctors, but any form of substance abuse or misuse can increase the chances of addiction.