Meloxicam during Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on June 13, 2012

The US Food and Drug Administration has various categories detailing the effects of medications in pregnancy on the growing fetus. The FDA has categorised meloxicam as a class C medication for the first 29 weeks of pregnancy, and a class D drug after that.

A class C drug is a medication for which there have not been any human studies of adequate quality demonstrating the effects of meloxicam on the fetus, but animal studies show that there may be harm caused by this medication.  However, the certainty of harm to a human baby is not known, because animals may be affected by medications in a different way to humans. A class D medication is a drug for which harm has been demonstrated to a fetus due to a pregnant woman using that medication.

For women looking to conceive, there has been some evidence that meloxicam along with other NSAIDs causes a delay in ovulation, which is reversible when you stop taking it.

Meloxicam during Pregnancy

Meloxicam may be used during pregnancy if the doctor thinks that the health benefits to the mother outweigh any risk to the fetus. There have been no human studies of the effects of meloxicam during pregnancy, so it is hard to know just how safe it is, but animal studies have shown that at the doses prescribed the medication shouldn’t cause any fetal harm for the first two trimesters. The medication should stop being used in the third trimester however, as it can cause a delayed, lengthy labour. In addition it can cross the placenta and cause abnormal development of the fetal circulation, which can result in a condition called pulmonary hypertension of the newborn.

Meloxicam during Breastfeeding

Meloxicam may be used when the mother is breastfeeding, again if the benefits outweigh the risks, i.e. if the mother is very uncomfortable and requires relief from the pain and stiffness of her joints.

If you are breast-feeding and are taking meloxicam, then there are ways that you can minimise the effects of this on your child. You should speak to your doctor about taking the lowest possible dose of meloxicam that still controls your symptoms. In addition, it is important to plan at what time of day you will take the medication. If you take it at the beginning of the longest possible time before the child feeds again, for example just after a feed, or when the child is asleep, then the majority of the medication will have cleared from your body before the child feeds again. This will ensure that your baby is exposed to the minimum amount of medication, whilst you still get the drug that you need.

If a woman using meloxicam becomes pregnant or is attempting to do so, it is important that she informs her doctor as soon as possible so that she can have the treatment she needs whilst minimising the risk to her fetus.