Ambien During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on May 2, 2012

At some point during pregnancy, many women experience some type of sleep problems. In fact it is estimated that about 95% of pregnant women suffer from sleep disturbance. Although insomnia can be all too often and may respond to simple interventions, some women may experience severe insomnia. This can make pregnancy disturbing and even significantly affect their ability to function.

Can Pregnant Women Take Ambien?

The U.S. FDA classifies Ambien and Ambien CR as a Pregnancy Category C medication which means that there is sparse information concerning Ambien use and pregnancy. Pregnant women are highly cautioned in the use of Ambien and other sleep medications during pregnancy. It is recommended that these drugs be used only when the perceived benefits outweigh the potential risks to the unborn child and the pregnancy.

Some animal studies suggest that this drug can cause some adverse effects on the fetus such as problems with bone formation. Ambien is also associated with increased risk for miscarriages. Both negative side effects are especially common in patients taking doses that exceed the recommended maximum dose. However, it should be noted that in these animal studies high doses of Ambien resulted in maternal toxicity such as poor weight gain which could also be associated with the fetal problems.

In most of these animal studies, Ambien has not been linked with birth defects.

A limited number of clinical studies conducted on pregnant women taking Ambien revealed that this medication increases the risk for preterm delivery and delivering low birth weight infants. These studies also confirmed that traces of this medication are passed through the placental barrier. However, another study did not establish any significant relationship between Ambien use and risk of congenital anomalies.

Infants born to pregnant women who have been using Ambien during the last months of pregnancy are at an increased risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms. In rare cases, newborn infants exhibit respiratory depression.

Can Breastfeeding Women Take Ambien?

The FDA does not recommend use of Ambien while breastfeeding. Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics considers it as compatible with breastfeeding but recommends careful consideration before use.

In a clinical study conducted on five lactating women, it has found out that low dose of Ambien is excreted in the breast milk. The potential effects of Ambien on nursing infants are not well established and requires more studies.

Managing Sleep Problems During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Although sleep problems are common during pregnancy, there are few guidelines that healthcare providers can use in choosing appropriate interventions. In most cases, improving sleep hygiene, reducing anxiety and stress, and relaxation can help pregnant women have a good night’s sleep. As much as possible use of sleep medications should be avoided and must be considered only as the last resort. Usually, insomnia during pregnancy is associated with other underlying anxiety. By addressing this main problem, sleep disturbance may diminish or even resolved.

Discuss with your healthcare provider all possible interventions to manage pregnancy-related sleep problems. Your healthcare provider will consider the potential benefits and risks of Ambien before prescribing this medication.