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narcotics and pregnancy

I have extreme back pain and I am taking dilaudid and fentanyl. I have tried to come off the pain meds and I can't because of the pain.  What are the risks if I get pregnant.  The doctors say that I will need some type of pain medication to be able to have quality of life.  What if any narcotics can be taken durning the entire pregnancy?  Please help, my obgyn said we will deal with it when it happens but I am not satisfied with that answer.  My pain doctor is willing to work with me and change my meds to those that are better for the baby.Thank you
17 Responses
Avatar universal
Sorry, just saw that you are working to try to change the meds.  Again, though--there is always some risk that you will have to accept if you take anything long term during pregnancy, and it would be best if you were on as little as possible during the pregnancy.  I hope everything works out for you.
Avatar universal
I was able to take both fioricet w/codeine and tylenol 3 during my pregnancies.  They like you to quit with them the last 2 months of the pregnancy so that the baby will not have addiction issues.  I do not know if these drugs will even help your pain.  I take mine for cluster headaches and migraines.

My girlfriend recently had a baby and then had back surgery two months after.  I don't know what, if any, medications she took.  I do know that she has had horrible back problems since I've known her.  That was back in high school and we are now 34.  I'll email her and see what she says.  She is in Australia and it is 16 hours ahead of us here in the States so it may take a bit for me to get back to your question.

Obviously taking as little medication is the best policy but that is not always an option.  People who do not have constant pain do not always understand and that's not a put down, it is what it is.

Avatar universal
Dilaudid and Fentanyl (Duragesic) are both stronger than Fiorecet and Tylenol #3. www.rxlist.com has information of both of these drugs, that is where I found the information below.  It is best to go ahead and talk to the OB/GYN and doctor about finding another type of medication that will not harm the baby so you can besure these medications are out of your system when you do conceive.  No studies have been done in pregnant women taking these medications, only in lab rats.  Best of Luck and hope this helps!
Pregnancy--Pregnancy Category C: Neither embryo-fetal toxicity nor teratogenic effects were observed following administration of DILAUDID at oral doses up to 7 mg/kg/day (41 mg/m 2 ) in rats from day 6 to day 17 of gestation and up to 25 mg/kg/day (315 mg/m 2 ) in rabbits from day 6 to day 20 of gestation.
Literature reports of hydromorphone hydrochloride administration to pregnant Syrian hamsters show that DILAUDID is teratogenic at a dose of 20 mg/kg which is 600 times the human dose. A maximal teratogenic effect (50% of fetuses affected) in the Syrian hamster was observed at a dose of 125 mg/kg (738 mg/m 2 ). There are no well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Hydromorphone hydrochloride is known to cross placental membranes. DILAUDID should be used in pregnant women only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus (see Labor and Delivery and DRUG ABUSE AND DEPENDENCE ).
Nonteratogenic effects: Babies born to mothers who have been taking opioids regularly prior to delivery will be physically dependent. The withdrawal signs include irritability and excessive crying, tremors, hyperactive reflexes, increased respiratory rate, increased stools, sneezing, yawning, vomiting, and fever. The intensity of the syndrome does not always correlate with the duration of maternal opioid use or dose. There is no consensus on the best method of managing withdrawal. Approaches to the treatment of this syndrome have included supportive care and, when indicated, drugs such as paregoric or phenobarbital.
Labor and Delivery: DILAUDID is contraindicated in Labor and Delivery (see CONTRAINDICATIONS ).

Avatar universal
Avatar universal
Taking Dilaudid and Fentanyl chronically during the entire pregnancy will result in a baby that is born addicted to them.  There could be effects beyond "just" addiction and detox for the baby.  The trouble is, no one can tell you 100% for sure what will happen.  

Taking medications during pregnancy is always a risk vs. benefit situation.  Medications should only be taken if absolutely medically necessary, and with the full knowledge that there may be unknown effects on the baby.  

Sounds like withdrawing from these drugs is not an option you will take.  Only you can judge whether you are willing to take the chances of visiting a possibly lifelong problem on a child.  No one will be able to tell you with any certainty what will happen to a baby exposed long term in utero to these drugs.  

Best case scenario is to be on as few drugs as possible during pregnancy.  Good luck to you.
Avatar universal
i  was in a car accident that resulted in numerous pinched nerves and herniated discs, i became pregnant with my first child 7 months after the accident and i refused to take any meds for the pain, i was in pure agony i cried all the time and barley got out of bed, my next two pregnancies i couldnt go thru that againi had to take lortabs for my pain, my doc said the little risk there was to taking the drug while prego was far less than the risks of distress and withdrawl during pregnancies.  with my last 2 children i cut myself down to one a day then none so the last month of my pregnancies were awful but i didnt want the babies t have to go thru withdrawl, and curently im in my 3rd month and im doing the same thing.  my oldest is 7 and my 2 girls are 5 and 4 and my 7 year old is very emotional he has limited patience and sometimes severe tantrums, my girls on the other hand are very calm little girls.  my son was tested by a neurologist and the report states because of the tremendous pain i went thru  and that i carried and was very depressed during my entire pregnancy that is the reason my son is so emotional.
Avatar universal
i am currently using a 50 mcg duragesic patch changed every 72 hours and 5/325 percocets as needed.  i barely take the pills. i was wondering if anyone had info on what the w/drawal side-effects may be for my newborn as i have used it my entire pregnancy. my pelvis was destroyed in a motorcycle accident and the extreme pain keeps me from normal activities and a decent-if any-quality of life. especially since i also have a 5 year old. if anyone has info, any input would be great. thanks
Avatar universal
your doctor would have told you the side effects. im sure you told your doctor about the medications your on
Avatar universal
A little something on Fentanyl and pregnancy.... my pain specialist said there have been some studies on the two, but the studies are still very new.
Avatar universal
Sorry... I am new to this site and I wanted to make sure it would let me post before I put a whole long paragraph down. I hate retyping.
I am pregnant for the first time, about 4 and 1/2 weeks along.. I have a severe chronic nerve pain condition that we've been treating with fentanyl and oxycodone for the last two years. It has been impossible to get off the pain medicine because I have no quality of life w/o it--the pain is too severe to function. With it, I am still in a lot of pain regularly...but its under control. I am worried about the baby already, but I know that the stress from the pain could cause me to miscarry, so I am not changing my medicines until we see the doctor next week for my first prenatal appt. It's at a high-risk clinic, so I feel better about that. If I find anymore info I'll post it for you guys.
Avatar universal
No one can tell you that having a baby while on narcotic meds is ideal, but there are ways of handling it.  First of all, consider methadone at a clinic that deals with pregnant women, if you do find yourself pregnant and still dependent on pain meds.  Also find a high risk ob doc experienced in delivering babies to mothers on narcotics.  Professionals can help you get by with the least amount of meds and also know how to help your child with any withdrawal, and it is not a foregone conclusion that your baby will have any problems, I have known of many girls who have given birth while on methadone to babies who had little to no withdrawal symptoms.  If there is no clinic near you maybe you pain control md can confer with high risk ob.  Ideally though, maybe consider a slow reduction of meds to the very least you can tolerate (or get off all meds) prior to becoming pregnant.  That would the most ideal.  Good luck.  Keep your mind open to the possibilities.
All 3 of my friends who took Methadone while pregnant, each of their children came out with issues such as delayed speech and two of the 3 kids are 3 and still do not talk, and 2 also have eyes problems b/c their eyes are cross eyed, they all have very slow learning abilities & one of them is almost 3 & is so tiny she wears 12 to maybe 18 mth clothes, probably just 12mth clothing. I have had 14 surgeries in the past 4 years from a car accident & I spent months n ICU in critical & grave condition while I was n a coma on life support for 2 mths and was told It was a very slim chance to get pregnant & now I Am about 3 weeks pregnant, but I may be able to take a pill or two less a day but with all my issues I have to To take something for my pain & I hate to say it but I'd rather my child go through a couple of weeks of withdrawal then to be physically and mentally messed up for the rest of their life. That's just my opinion, but from my experience Methadone is not safest way to go unless u want ur child to have issues
Avatar universal
Hi! My situation seems to very closely resemble yours, although everyone with chronic pain has a different story. I was also taking Fentanyl and Dilaudid (I've been on narcotics for 7yrs.), but while I was engaged, my Doctor suggested trying to get off the pain meds because I was hoping to become pregnant after marriage. Thank G-d I was able to stop taking my pain meds completely. I then became pregnant right away and unfortunately the pregnancy caused my pain to come back with a vengeance. The worst part is that the first Dr. that I saw when I became pregnant told me that I could not take any pain meds- only Tylenol which is a joke :( I was miserable and in excrutiating pain. My poor new husband didn't know what to do! I finally spoke to my pain specialist and started seeing a high-risk OB who told me to take my Dilaudid. I am now in my 7th month thank G-d with no complications. I was told to take as much Dilaudid as needed and that it would be worse for the baby not to take anything. The pain Dr. said that for the fetus to go thru withdrawal in the womb is very bad so I must make sure to take it daily. My OB says she has delivered many babies whose mothers took dilaudid and I should do what i have to do to stay healthy and well. She told me that it's the year 2010 now and modern medicine has many ways to keep the baby healthy and safe. I hope this is some comfort and I keep praying that my baby will be healthy. Although I often feel guilty, I know that I am doing what must be done and what's best for myself, my husband, and the baby!
Avatar universal
i'm 18 and six months pregnant. I've been taking 5mg valium, 10mg percocet, and 30mg morphine for the past 4 years because of my back and knee problems and i've still been taking it every day throughout my whole pregnancy so far. Turns out, the effects from not taking the meds and the effects from taking them every fdat are much different. I was told withdraw is much more dangerous to myself and my unborn daughter. Btw I've done plenty of testing and my daughter has no visible birth defects or issues. She's healthy and growing :)
I know it’s 7 years later and far stretch for a response but just wondering how your daughter is doing now as I’m on methadone but take an extremely small dose of hydromorphine also 6mg. A response would be extremely reassuring and helpful as I’m due in just over 2 months.
Avatar universal
I was on 12 different types of medication for multiple health problems. When I found out I was pregnant we were able to reduce this to 9 different types of medicine. 2 of those 9 meds were fentanyl and morphine.
I suffer from very severe pain in my spine as it is broken in 3 places, have an incomplete spinal cord injury, spondylyosis, spondylyothesis and spinal stenosis. (These are just my spinal problems)
When my baby was born he had mild withdrawel symptoms. He is now 11 months old. Only problems he still has now is reflux (which is common in all babies) and possibly asthma. Other than that he is doing very well. He is very up and down, crying then laughing, and even has tantrums such as throwing himself, pinching, head butting. He is a really good boy though, I love him to bits. Those occassions when he is naughty and not too frequent.
Avatar universal
hi I was on the site to see what other information was posted about the side effects of taking narcotics while being pregnant because just last week I also found I was prego but when I saw the comment about  taking methadone while pregnant  I had to come in myself  because I know someone that took methadone while she was pregnant  instead of continuing percoset or any other opiates of that sort  the baby went through the worst withdrawal that I've ever seen and had to take morphine to help with the withdrawals her obstetrician I told her that it would of been better for her to stay on the percoset but the thing was is she wasn't her scar so instead they put her on methadone which basically harm the baby more than did good because of the withdrawals after
Avatar universal
Hello my name is Courtney, I am 25 years old and just found out I am pregnant. :) I am  about 8 1/2 weeks now. The reason for my letter is because I have been taking dilaudid for the past 6/7 months now ( not prescribed). This is my first pregnancy, and I am scared of what to do, or how to go about it.... Please get back to me with any advice, I can see that you may relate as far as taking the dilaudid while you were pregnant. I certainly don't want to do anything to harm my baby!!! but I am concerned if I don't keep myself "well" it will hurt the baby more..... please help :)  

PLEASE REPLY TO : ***@****
Avatar universal
I was reading our post.... I really would like to know if your baby had any complications after birth from the medication you were on. Please get back to me. I'm in a similar situation and need help with this. Thank you. Giannna
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