Dangers Of Using Xanax While Breastfeeding

It can be dangerous to breastfeed while on any dose of Xanax, as the baby can consume trace amounts of the drug through the breast milk. If a woman is breastfeeding, there may be alternatives to Xanax that can treat anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


To understand why it can be risky to breastfeed while using Xanax, it’s first important to understand what Xanax is.

Xanax is a type of antidepressant drug which is prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. The pharmaceutical compound name for this medication is alprazolam.

But Xanax can be abused and lead to possible addiction.

Clinical studies have found that nursing mothers who breastfeed their children while on Xanax or another brand name antidepressant can transfer traces of the drug to their babies.

This happens because the drug is metabolized by the mother, and the substance makes its way into the mammary glands that produce milk.

Xanax has also been shown to increase prolactin levels in the mother. Prolactin is a hormone which spikes breast milk production.

Is It Safe To Breastfeed While Taking Xanax?

It is not considered medically safe to breastfeed while taking Xanax or any other kind of anti-seizure or anti-anxiety medication, such as lorazepam or diazepam.

In addition to passing trace amounts of the controlled substance on to the baby, any type of sedation-inducing medication can have serious effects on the mother’s mental health.

If you add postpartum depression to an existing Xanax addiction, the health of both the baby and the mother can be at risk.

Current medical advice recommends that mothers avoid using Xanax while breastfeeding.

However, there are differences between the side effects felt after abusing Xanax and taking it as it is instructed by a legitimate prescription.

The heightened hormonal activity and increased stress responses in pregnant or nursing mothers can negatively coincide with heavier controlled medications such as Xanax.

Even if taken as prescribed, it is generally recommended that Xanax be avoided during the nursing period, in favor of a shorter-acting benzodiazepine without active metabolites.

Effects Of Xanax On Lactation

One of the common side effects of Xanax prescriptions is the propensity to increase the release of prolactin, which in turn increases breast milk production.

Transfer Of Alprazolam To Breast Milk

Alprazolam, the pharmaceutical name for Xanax, can be transferred into breast milk and then be ingested in turn by the baby.

While clinical studies have shown that the trace levels of alprazolam in breast milk are minimal, any amount of the substance can cause infants to experience adverse side effects.

Even low doses of Xanax taken by the mother can result in the baby experiencing weight loss, agitation, restlessness, and sleep disturbances.

Change In Milk Production Levels

Even a single dose of Xanax can boost milk production levels. Alprazolam metabolites can make their way into breast milk and subsequently be ingested by the infant.
The more milk that is produced, the more alprazolam the infant can ingest, leading to a self-perpetuating cycle of medication exposure to the baby.

How Xanax Use Affects Breastfed Infants

Infants can experience a number of adverse health complications and other side effects from ingesting breast milk that carries Xanax metabolites.

Some of these side effects include:

  • drowsiness
  • increased irritability
  • increased stress
  • weight loss
  • potential growth hindrance

Effects Of Xanax On Breastfeeding Mothers

The side effects of Xanax — a controlled substance per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — can be dangerous for people who abuse the drug, as well as for postpartum mothers.

Breastfeeding mothers currently using a Xanax prescription may feel:

  • excessive drowsiness
  • confusion and hysteria
  • headaches and migraines
  • loss of appetite
  • behavioral changes
  • depression
  • difficulty concentrating
  • memory problems
  • nausea
  • sluggishness

Treatment Options For Xanax Addiction

Fortunately, there are a number of treatment methods and programs available to treat Xanax addictions.

You can expect to find the following substance use treatment programs at rehab centers:

  • inpatient and outpatient treatment
  • supervised detox
  • medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • residential stay opportunities
  • educational and vocational programs
  • religious-centered programs and activities
  • therapy and counseling
  • telehealth services

Find Substance Abuse Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

If you or a loved one is in need of substance abuse treatment, give our free helpline a call today to discuss enrollment at Bedrock Recovery Center.

  1. National Library of Medicine (NLM) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501199/#:~:text=Summary%20of%20Use%20during%20Lactation,a%20neonate%20or%20premature%20infant.
  2. National Library of Medicine (NLM) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33449825/

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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