What You Need to Know about Methadone and Pregnancy

People living with opiate addiction well know the type of destruction opiates can wreak in a person’s life. These effects become even more dire during pregnancy, for both the mother and the unborn child.

Methadone has remained an effective opiate addiction treatment for over five decades. While a great deal of the research and data surrounding methadone has been done on non-pregnant individuals, much of this information does still pertain to cases involving methadone and pregnancy.

Methadone and pregnancy data shows methadone to be a fairly safe treatment option, though certain dangers do exist. As methadone is known to produce certain types of effects during the course of treatment, dosage calibrations must be made with considerable care during pregnancy as well as after a woman gives birth.

While not entirely different from the standard methadone treatment protocols, issues and concerns surrounding methadone and pregnancy do exist.

Opiate Addiction Dangers During Pregnancy

opiate addiction and pregnancy

Methadone is able to help pregnant women in recovery, though considerations should be taken.

Ongoing opiate abuse causes considerable damage to brain and body functions. During pregnancy, these effects can greatly compromise the development of the fetus and result in any number of complications both during and after giving birth.

According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, potential problems arising from opiate abuse during pregnancy include –

  • Premature delivery
  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Malnutrition in the mother
  • Anemia
  • Preeclampsia
  • Postpartum hemorrhage

As an accepted standard treatment for opiate-addicted pregnant women, outcomes from methadone and pregnancy are far less potentially dangerous than the effects of ongoing opiate use.

Methadone and Pregnancy – Dosage Adjustment Protocols

Methadone’s effectiveness lies in its ability to relieve opiate drug withdrawal effects while at the same time reducing ongoing drug cravings. In effect, dosage adjustments are made based on the degree of withdrawal effects and drug cravings a person experiences. Methadone also produces a long-acting effecting that allow for a once-daily dosing schedule.

With methadone and pregnancy, the changes a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy may well require an increase in the standard dosage level amounts. The overall health of a pregnant mother can also influence dosage amounts.

Methadone Dosage Considerations

Much of methadone’s effectiveness relies on the rate at which the body metabolizes the drug. Any medication or chemical process capable of altering the body’s metabolism rate can lessen methadone’s intended therapeutic effects.

Hormonal changes, stress levels and changes in body fluid levels during pregnancy can all hamper methadone’s effectiveness as an opiate addiction treatment. Where methadone and pregnancy is concerned, dosage level amounts will likely change through the course of a woman’s pregnancy term.

Postpartum Dosage Considerations

Methadone’s long-acting effects enhance the drug’s ability to be absorbed in the body’s tissue and fat materials. When it comes to methadone and pregnancy, the loss of weight that results after giving birth can greatly throw off methadone metabolism and absorption rates.

During the postpartum period, the risk for overdose increases, especially when proper dosage adjustments are not made. Continuing with the same dosage amount after the baby is born places a woman at a high risk of methadone poisoning. Changing hormonal levels and water loss can also offset methadone’s overall effects during the postpartum period.

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