Using Demerol While Pregnant

Demerol should not be used while a woman is pregnant. The National Institutes of Health indicates that when a woman uses Demerol during her pregnancy, the baby’s heart rate slows.

Demerol (meperidine hydrochloride) is not safe to use while a woman is pregnant. This prescription drug is an opioid analgesic narcotic that provides pain relief for those suffering from moderate to severe pain.

Demerol is a schedule II controlled substance and opioid agonist that binds to opioid receptors in the brain. It serves as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant.

This opioid medication causes sedation and analgesia. If a pregnant woman takes Demerol throughout her pregnancy, her baby may experience severe, life-threatening withdrawal symptoms after birth.

Using Demerol While Pregnant

Demerol should not be used while a woman is pregnant. The National Institutes of Health indicates that when a woman uses Demerol during her pregnancy, the baby’s heart rate is slower than those who haven’t been exposed to the drug.

This lowered heart rate, combined with potential respiratory depression, is part of many side effects that can occur if a baby develops neonate opioid withdrawal syndrome.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

If you suspect that your child may be suffering from opioid withdrawals due to the usage of Demerol, there are a number of signs to be aware of.

For instance, your child may show signs of:

  • uncontrollable shaking
  • inability to gain weight
  • irritability
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • abnormal sleep patterns
  • hyperactivity

Using Demerol During Labor

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Demerol can be used to treat women in pain during the birthing process.

However, the anesthetic medication is not recommended as it can pass through the placental barrier, possibly producing respiratory depression and causing other harm.

Using Demerol While Breastfeeding

During the lactation process, the medication can transfer from the mother to the child. To prevent possible developmental problems, a woman should not use Demerol while breastfeeding.

Side Effects Of Demerol Use

Although Demerol may be useful for severe pain, it causes a number of short-term and long-term side effects.

Short-Term Side Effects

Some of the short-term side effects of using Demerol include:

  • sedation
  • euphoria or feelings of happiness
  • relaxation
  • headache
  • weakness
  • nausea

Long-Term Side Effects

Those who take Demerol for long periods of time should understand that some of the long-term side effects may consist of:

  • constipation
  • lightheadedness
  • shaking or tremors
  • physical dependence
  • changes in mood
  • hepatic impairment

Demerol Overdose

With anyone, Demerol poses a risk of addiction due to its potential habit-forming nature. Those who abuse the drug by taking large doses or combining medications may increase their chances of toxicity.

Symptoms of a Demerol overdose may include:

  • fainting
  • breathing problems
  • clammy skin
  • severe drowsiness
  • slowed heart rate
  • blue-colored skin or lips
  • muscle weakness

If an overdose is expected, contact help immediately. A healthcare professional may provide naloxone, a medication which may reverse the symptoms of an overdose.

Demerol Warnings

In addition to the numerous harmful side effects that can be caused by taking Demerol during your pregnancy, there are a number of warnings. For instance, the doctor prescribing Demerol should know if you have ever had a head injury, have a history of sleep apnea, or kidney disease.

Drug Interactions

Demerol should not be combined with other medications. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider if you take any of these medications as they should not be combined with Demerol:

  • benzodiazepines
  • muscle relaxants
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • antidepressants
  • mixed agonist/antagonists such as butorphanol
  • drugs used to treat seizures such as phenytoin
  • fentanyl
  • ritonavir

Combining medications with Demerol, especially CNS depressants, can lead to severe issues such as respiratory depression, hypotension, and blood pressure fluctuations.

Serotonin Syndrome

In addition to the previously-mentioned medications, phenelzine, tranylcypromine, or selegiline should not be combined with Demerol as they each increase the serotonin levels in the brain. When this takes place, serotonin syndrome, a potential life-threatening reaction, may occur.

Serious side effects of serotonin syndrome can include:

  • unable to respond or awaken
  • a fast heart rate
  • sweating
  • fever
  • hallucinations
  • diarrhea
  • hyperthermia
  • agitation
  • coma

If you or a loved one struggle with drug abuse, please contact us today to learn about our outpatient treatment options for opioid addiction.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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