You hear many people touting that breast is best when in reality fed is best. As long as the baby is thriving, then it shouldn’t matter how the child is eating, from a bottle or a breast, formula or breast-milk, as long as they are getting what they need.
But what about taking care of mom? Mom needs to be physically and mentally healthy as well, but sometimes that involves the necessity of medications.
At that point, you want to consider any potential side effects that may have on your child because of medicine intake. Whether it can get passed through the milk to the baby and what harm it could bring.
What is Xanax?
Xanax is a prescription only medication used for the treatment of those with anxiety and panic disorders as well as anxiety brought on by depression. Its generic name is Alprazolam and belongs to the benzodiazepine group.
Warnings on the medication itself do tell those who are pregnant not to take the medication due to the potential for developing withdrawal symptoms in the newborn and birth defects. It is habit forming and can pass through breastmilk to the baby/toddler as well.
Breastfeeding and Medications
When it comes to medications and breastfeeding there are reference numbers that correlate to the medication and its effect on the infant.
Kelly Mom received information from Medications and Mothers’ Milk (2014) by Thomas W. Hale, Ph.D.  with regards to the information on each classification.
See the classifications below (all information taken from above article):
- L1 Compatible which means that nursing mothers have taken this medication on a large scale with no observable negative effects on the babies they are feeding.
- L2 Probably Compatible are drugs that haven’t been studied on a large scale so there really isn’t too much information and those that have been have shown no adverse reaction, or the demonstrated risk is unlikely.
- L3 Probably Compatible (and this one is a bit controversial to say the least) means that there have been zero studies done on the medication but there are potential affects, or minimal non-threatening ones. These ones are given in the considerations that the potential benefits to the mom outweigh the potential risk to the child.
- L4 Possible Hazardous drugs have shown evidence of harm to the infant, but the medications may be acceptable if it’s a life threatening situation with no other alternative.
- L5 Hazardous medications are the ones with risks that have been documented and can cause a significant amount of damage.
Why Mom’s Would Consider taking Xanax
Xanax is used to treat anxiety and depression. There are many moms that deal with postpartum depression and anxiety.
What is postpartum depression (PPD)?
There are many symptoms that can go along with it such as being overwhelmed to the point of “I will never be able to handle this” off and feeling guilty because you think your newborn deserves a better mother.
You may not feel bonded with your baby either, and you might feel resentful towards the baby as well. And these symptoms can also range into suicidal thoughts or ideations, or those of running away.
It’s scary for new mothers, especially when they are dealing with thoughts such as these. But then there is postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD, which is another reason why new parents could turn to Xanax to help them just get through the day.
With these, some of the symptoms could be the inability to just sit still or quiet the mind. Something always has to be done and you’re always worried, not just kind of worried, always.
You might feel as though something bad is always going to happen (ever try and walk down the stairs with your newborn and just imagine dropping them, it’s scary). And these can manifest all day long, every day without rest.
Recent headlines have brought in celebrities that are willing to talk about the fact that they sought help, as should you. And that’s where the need for Xanax can come in.
The issue is treatable and is something that once you get the help you can start to feel “normal” and feel like you can actually enjoy being a mom.
Should You Be Taking Xanax While Nursing
Depending on if the benefits to the mother outweigh the potential risks to the child, then there are other options such as Lorazepam and Oxazepam.
If you do end up taking Xanax, ensure that you are taking it exactly as recommended dose and watch out for possible side effects in the baby such as drowsiness, weight loss, feeding problems, and lethargy.
The amounts that reach the infant are small, however, you still want to watch for potential side effects.
Whatever the reason may be for your need for Xanax, know that it’s okay to ask for help, and just take the time to do your research and discuss your options with your healthcare provider.
- Lactation Risk Categories (2014).[Link]
- The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (in Plain mama English).[Link]
- Oxazepam Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Warnings [Link]