Tramadol during Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on April 27, 2012


The FDA—or Food and Drug Administration—has assigned Tramadol (Ultram) to the pregnancy category C. This means that although the drug may cause harm or death to an unborn fetus if the mother takes it during pregnancy or labor, there have not been enough studies done to correlate the medication with these risks. It is highly recommended that pregnant women only use tramadol if the benefits of the drug highly outweigh any risks to the unborn fetus. Women who become pregnant while using Tramadol medications such as Ultram should discontinue use as soon as possible.

Tramadol has been shown to pass into breast milk, so women who are breastfeeding should avoid taking tramadol or discontinue breastfeeding during treatment with this medication and for a few days afterward.

Can Tramadol be used by pregnant women?

A category C classification means that some teratogenic effects have been observed in animals but there are not enough well-controlled and adequate studies in people. Still, the potential benefit can outweigh the expected risk in some cases. Tramadol should not be taken by pregnant women unless it is prescribed by a physician. It should be taken only in cases where no other alternative is possible.

In pregnant mice Tramadol has been reported to cause slowing down of the development and skeletal abnormalities in the fetus. Although Tramadol is a potent pain-killer, it has not been approved for administering during a delivery as it can lead to breathing depression in the baby.

Developing of withdrawal symptoms has been reported in infants exposed for extended periods of time to Tramadol during pregnancy. The symptoms include trembling, uncontrolled movements, irritability, seizures and rapid heart rate. Special attention should be paid to newborns whose mothers have been using Tramadol during pregnancy. Withdrawal therapy conducted by a specialist in this field is necessary as well as strict medical observation for a long period of time.

Tramadol during breastfeeding

About 0, 1 % of the received dose of Tramadol is excreted in breast milk. This is a comparatively low percentage and no serious adverse effects have been reported when Tramadol is taken in low dosage and episodically. Still, it is better to avoid taking Tramadol while breastfeeding. However, if the daily dose is lower than 100mg, usually no adverse effects are observed. The administering of Tramadol during breast-feeding should be done only after a consultation with a healthcare provider and only if no safer alternative is available. The duration of the treatment with Tramadol should be as short as possible.

Women that have developed dependence on Tramadol should wean off before getting pregnant. If you are using Tramadol for chronic pain and you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, talk to your physician. A doctor can help you to withdraw and offer you a safer alternative for pain-relieving during pregnancy.

On balance, Tramadol should not be used by pregnant women. Its usage is acceptable only in emergency cases, under strict medical control and if the potential benefit outweighs the risk. In low dose (not more than 50-100 mg), it is usually safe during breast-feeding. However, avoiding medicines during breast-feeding is recommended. Always consult a physician before taking Tramadol, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.