Percocet During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on April 23, 2012

Percocet use while pregnant or during breastfeeding may cause anxiety for parents who are concerned with possible long-term consequences for the new mother and baby. Percocet is a pregnancy Category C medication. This indicates that it is probably safe for use during pregnancy, but has not been studied adequately.

It will be left at the discretion of your healthcare provider to determine whether the benefits will outweigh the potential side effects in pregnancy.

Percocet Classification

When a medication is listed as being category C by the FDA it can that there have been many studies done to test the safety of the medication, however, few of them have used human test subjects; alternately, it could also mean that studies done on animals may have not produced negative results or that there have not been enough studies done on animals to determine risk factors. In such cases, the FDA is hesitant to guarantee the safety of medications in this category. As there is no direct evidence that harm exists, however, the FDA recommends that patients and doctors weigh the benefits of treatment against possible side-effects.

The use of Percocet during pregnancy, though not promoted by the FDA, might be considered safe. Percocet is commonly used by pregnant mothers when there is a pain issue that cannot be managed through other methods. The two components, acetaminophen and oxycodone, have been individually studied by the FDA and they do not in themselves pose a risk to the mother or to the in-utero fetus. Studies have shown that opioids like Percocet are not mutagenic or teratogenic, so they are unlikely to cause changes at a cellular level with a growing fetus. There are no documented risks of birth defects or long-term health consequences that can be predicted from the use of Percocet during pregnancy.

Women who do take this medication through their pregnancy may however find that their infants display withdrawal symptoms including:

  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Increased stools
  • Fever
  • Irritability

Percocet During Breastfeeding

Though the manufacturers of Percocet do not recommend use of this medication during breastfeeding, there is no evidence of negative effects so it is still prescribed by physicians when it is the best available pain management option. The acetaminophen portion can be excreted in breast milk, however, there are no known negative effects of this. The oxycodone portion of Percocet, however, may have narcotic effects on the baby, so parents should be aware to look for signs of exhaustion or lethargy in breastfeeding babies. If taking the medication as prescribed, however, there appears to be very little risk from the mild exposure through breast milk.

Side effects for infants of breastfeeding mothers on this medication may include excessive sleeping, breathing issues and difficulty feeding. As with pregnancy, your healthcare provider can help you weigh the pros and cons of this drug. If you plan to stop taking Percocet before breastfeeding, you should discuss this with your doctor to develop a plan of gradually weaning your body off of the medication.

Addiction Worries

Percocet is a narcotic, also called a synthetic opioid. Because there are addictive elements to this drug, it is important that women who fear they may have dependency issues address this with their doctors while pregnant. Though no harm has been linked for fetuses in the early stages of development, heavy use of the medication in later stages may inadvertently pass dependency from mother to baby. Percocet use, therefore, should be minimized for the last trimester in an attempt to avoid any transference of addiction or dependency from mother to baby.

The information above is in relation to proper use of Percocet. If the medication is being abused, the risk may increase. People who are taking this medication while pregnant or breastfeeding should consult with their physician if they believe there are any dependency issues that need to be addressed.