Series: 10 Things You Should Know About Methadone (Number 6)

6.  Methadone is the gold standard treatment for pregnant women who are opiate dependent

Update:  Recent research and US government guidelines suggest that buprenorphine (Subutex) and methadone are both “gold standard” treatments for pregnant women who are opiate dependent.  Of course, a woman in consultation with her doctor should decide the best treatment option in her own particular case.

Methadone is the best treatment for pregnant women who are opiate dependent.

This is because methadone is the most effective treatment for opiate dependence, and it is not harmful to the mother or child.

Methadone treatment for pregnant women as been well studied, and methadone does not cause abnormalities, low birth weight or other harm to the fetus.

Methadone helps the mother stabilize emotionally and physically.

She is more likely to eat well, sleep well, seek medical care and avoid a variety of health risks -including risk of violence.

As with any methadone patient, her dose should be sufficient to avoid withdrawal and limit cravings.

Cycles of intoxication and withdrawal put physical stress on the unborn child.  Methadone is not harmful to the fetus, but detoxing does place the unborn child at serious risk for miscarriage or premature birth.

A stable methadone dose allows the unborn child to develop in a stable environment without stress caused by fluctuating opiate levels.  Methadone treatment reduces the risk of miscarriage or premature birth.

Methadone treatment allows the child to be born with a mother who is physically stable and in recovery.

She will be better able to care for herself and the child.  And she will be less likely to lose custody of the child or have her parental rights terminated.

Women can conceive while taking methadone.

They can have normal, healthy pregnancies while taking methadone.

They can have a normal delivery, and give birth to a healthy child while taking methadone.

They can even safely breast feed their baby while taking methadone (the small amounts of methadone in breast milk are not considered harmful to the baby).

There will be methadone in the  baby’s system when it is born.  Doctors and hospitals know how to safely wean the baby from methadone without undue discomfort or distress to the baby.

Most mothers would prefer not to have their baby born with a physical dependence on methadone, but methadone treatment  is highly beneficial to the mother, and potentially life saving to the unborn child.  It is important.

If you are in methadone treatment and become pregnant, keep in mind that your metabolism may change in a way that requires an increase in your methadone dose.  Or you made need to take your methadone several times a day (often referred to as “split doses.”)

Remember moms, your methadone dose can be fatal if swallowed by a child.  If you have take home doses, keep them out of reach and locked up!  If a child swallows the medication, call 911 immediately for emergency medical help.

If you are a pregnant woman who is opiate dependent, congratulations!  Many opiate dependent women are great moms.

You will be better able to be the mother you want to be if you seek the medical care and drug treatment you need.

It’s scary to be pregnant and identify an opiate dependence issue to your doctor, but it’s important.

Gather your courage and strength, and make it happen!

You can do this.

 

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