Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam, a benzodiazepine (benzo) that is typically prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders, insomnia, and seizures.
Lorazepam is generally not recommended for those who are pregnant. However, if there is no other way to treat your anxiety, insomnia, or seizure disorder, lorazepam may still be considered.
Taking this prescription drug during pregnancy is ultimately up to the pregnant woman and their doctor.
Can You Take Ativan While Pregnant?
Some studies suggest that the use of Ativan (or the use of benzodiazepines in general) while pregnant may lead to preterm birth and low birth weight.
Taking Ativan during the first trimester has also been associated with a slight increase in the risk of birth defects like cleft lip and cleft palate as well as congenital malformations.
However, if the anxiety, insomnia, or seizure disorder would have a greater negative effect on the mother or the baby than the potential risks that come with taking Ativan while pregnant, taking the medication may be necessary.
Floppy Infant Syndrome
Ativan use during pregnancy can also lead to floppy infant syndrome.
The symptoms of this syndrome include:
- feeding problems
- muscle weakness
- respiratory depression
Ativan use during pregnancy can also lead to Ativan withdrawal in the newborn baby when it’s no longer getting the drug from its mother.
Ativan withdrawal may lead to the baby staying in the hospital longer after birth and can include symptoms like:
- difficulty breathing
- muscle weakness
Ativan & Breastfeeding
A small amount of Ativan can pass to babies through breast milk when breastfeeding. Because of this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend taking it while you’re breastfeeding as it can lead to sedation in the baby.
That being said, if the mother is going to struggle with her physical or mental health during breastfeeding, then that risk could outweigh the risk the drug may have on the baby.
Alternatives To Ativan During Pregnancy
If you don’t want to take Ativan while pregnant but still need to treat your anxiety, there are other options you can choose, including:
Some medications with a lower risk of birth defects like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). If you are breastfeeding, Zoloft is considered one of the safest anti-anxiety medications for that time.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a form of therapy where you unlearn negative thought patterns and work to replace them with positive thoughts and actions.
Prenatal massage, medication, or prenatal yoga to help relax yourself.
Side Effects Of Ativan
Beyond the ways Ativan can affect your baby during and after pregnancy, the drug also comes with side effects that could affect how you feel when you take it.
The most common side effects may include:
- changes in appetite
- difficulty urinating
- blurred vision
If you do take Ativan, there are several other medications that should not be taken along with it. The combination may lead to serious reactions that could be life-threatening.
Some of the medications that shouldn’t be taken with Ativan include:
- asthma medication
- muscle relaxants
- oral contraceptives
- probenecid (Probalan)
- sleeping pills
- valproic acid
You should also not take Ativan if you’re allergic to its ingredients or if you’ve had an allergic reaction to other benzodiazepines including alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), and diazepam (Valium).
There are also a few medical conditions that Ativan can make worse.
If you take Ativan and have one of the following conditions, it could exacerbate your symptoms:
- respiratory depression
- lung disease
- heart disease
- liver disease
Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms
If you abuse Ativan or take high doses over a period of time, there is an increased risk of becoming dependent on the drug. If that occurs and you try to quit taking Ativan, withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur.
These symptoms can include:
- hand tremors
- muscle pain/stiffness
- blood pressure changes
- rapid heart rate
- weight loss
- panic attacks
If you do want to quit taking Ativan, be sure to have a healthcare provider or an addiction specialist involved. They will likely put you on a tapering schedule where you take smaller and smaller doses of Ativan until you can stop completely without feeling withdrawal symptoms.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, you don’t have to go through it alone. Northeast Addiction Treatment Center is here to help. Please call our helpline today for more information.
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.