Ambien Use During Pregnancy | Safety & Potential Risks

Ambien, as well as many other sleep aids, is not considered safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you're struggling with chronic insomnia while pregnant, talk to your doctor to find pregnancy-safe solutions.

Sleep is important for pregnant women—insomnia can affect a pregnant mother’s health as well as the health of their unborn baby. Unfortunately, Ambien is not considered safe for those who are pregnant because it can lead to multiple birth defects.

Ambien (the brand name for zolpidem) is a sedative-hypnotic prescription drug that is typically used in the short-term treatment of insomnia. It can also be known under the names Intermezzo, Ambien CR, and Zolpimist.

Is Ambien Use Safe During Pregnancy?

Ambien use is likely not considered safe during pregnancy. Evidence suggests that taking Ambien while pregnant can lead to birth abnormalities, preterm labor, and low birth weight.

These problems primarily occur when the drug is taken during the first trimester and can be compounded if the mother is abusing Ambien or taking it in higher doses than recommended.

That being said, someone who is pregnant and not getting any sleep due to chronic insomnia can also experience physical and mental health issues that affect both them and the baby.

It’s up to the mother and their healthcare provider to weigh the benefits versus the risks and find the best option for them.

Potential Risks Of Ambien Use During Pregnancy

There are a few different risks that can come with taking Ambien while pregnant, including:

Preterm Delivery

One study has shown that taking Ambien while pregnant increases the risk of going into labor before your due date. With a preterm birth, there are chances that the baby’s organs will not be fully developed and they may require extra care.

Low Birth Weight

Another study has also linked Ambien use during pregnancy to low birth weight in the baby. This means that Ambien may slow down the baby’s growth in the womb.

Low birth weight can also mean the baby is not as strong as it could be and that its internal organs may not be fully developed. They may also have issues with staying warm as they don’t have much body fat.


Neonatal withdrawal symptoms can also be an issue when Ambien is used or abused during pregnancy. When the baby is no longer receiving Ambien through the placenta, they can go into withdrawal.

This can lead to:

  • breathing problems
  • reduced muscle tone (floppy infant syndrome)
  • lethargy
  • drowsiness

Side Effects Of Ambien

While anyone who takes Ambien can experience side effects, a pregnant mother experiencing side effects can affect both her and the unborn baby.

The most common adverse effects include:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • diarrhea
  • lightheadedness
  • unsteady walking
  • headache

Many of these side effects could make a pregnant woman fall and injure themselves which could also harm the fetus. Dehydration from diarrhea can also be a big issue and be dangerous for the mother and baby.

Breastfeeding & Ambien

Using or abusing Ambien while breastfeeding can also lead to problems with your baby. Since a small amount of Ambien transfers into the breast milk, the baby can ingest it as well.

Some studies found that when taking a normal dose, the amount that transfers is so little that it’s insignificant and doesn’t affect the baby. But other studies found that babies can exhibit signs of sedation, poor weight gain, and respiratory depression.

If you are struggling with Ambien abuse or addiction and taking the drug in very high doses, there is an increased risk of your baby experiencing these symptoms.

Ambien Alternatives During Pregnancy

If you are looking to stop Ambien use but still need help with insomnia or other sleep problems, there are some things you can do, including:

  • establishing a regular sleep routine
  • avoiding naps
  • minimizing fluid intake close to bedtime
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • listening to relaxing music before bed
  • taking a warm bath before bed
  • asking your doctor about tricyclic antidepressants as an alternative medication
  • taking over-the-counter sleep aids like melatonin

Substance Abuse Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder related to Ambien and looking for treatment, please contact Northeast Addiction Treatment Center today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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