Ativan is a type of benzodiazepine which is used for treating anxiety disorder. The medication works by altering chemicals in brain. It produces a calming effect in the brain and enhances effect of GABA, a naturally occurring chemical in body. This will help the patient to effectively deal with anxiety. It is also used for other medical conditions like insomnia in pediatric patients and adults, status epilepticus and others. It can also be used as a light anesthesia for adults. The generic name of the drug is Lorazepam. Are you pregnant or planning to get pregnant? You need to learn a little about Ativan and its effect on pregnant women.
Risks in pregnancy
Ativan can cause birth defects and other serious problems. Thus, it should not be used by pregnant women. The drug can cause addiction to the user and in the same manner unborn fetus can also become dependent on Ativan. If the fetus becomes dependent, it will take weeks of medical treatment to get cured. This dependency can cause withdrawal symptoms in the baby, which can be fatal. Common withdrawal symptoms in fetus are;
- Difficulty in breathing
- Respiratory problem
- Neonatal flaccidity
In some cases, damage to fetus caused by drug might be irreversible.
Doctor supervised Ativan during pregnancy
Anxiety is a serious problem in pregnant women and it cannot be left untreated. It can cause negative health repercussions, which is not good for the pregnant woman or to her fetus. Untreated anxiety can also cause self destructive behavior and other mental illness. In rare cases, where anxiety cannot be treated by any other drug in pregnant women, doctors may prescribe Ativan under close surveillance after weighing the benefits and risks of the drug.
There are no complex research findings to prove that Ativan can cause defects in the fetus. However, it is found that the drug can increase the risk of preterm labor, reduce birth weight and cause damage to placenta. These can also be affected by maternal anxiety.
Due to this dilemma, doctors, sometimes, prescribe the drug for pregnant women. But, the drug is usually not recommended during the first trimester as the fetus would be at a very vulnerable state and the risks of defects are common at that period.
Nursing mothers should not consume the drug. A minimal amount of Ativan passes through breast milk and can affect the baby. This can cause over-sedation and other problems with or without withdrawal symptoms in the nursing baby. Withdrawal symptoms experienced by pregnant women are onset of sedative feelings, irritability, sedation and other suckling difficulties. Based on the importance of the drug to the mother, either the drug or the feeding would be discontinued by doctor. You can talk to your doctor to learn about other options in terms of drug and feeding. This is not the only anti-anxiety drug available in the market. Your doctor can prescribe you an alternative drug, if deemed necessary. In case of continuing feeding while consuming Ativan, the baby should be closely monitored for sedation and irritability.
Thus, if you are planning to use Ativan for anxiety disorder or other reasons, talk to your doctor about effective birth control. Use both hormonal and non-hormonal birth control methods to avoid pregnancy, while consuming the drug. If you are planning to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about alternatives for Ativan.
Just because the drug is readily available in any Canadian drug store, it does not mean that you can consume it without any consideration. Even if you are not pregnant, the drug should not be consumed without doctor’s advice. Talk to your doctor about your medical condition, medical history, list of drugs that you are consuming including over-the-counter drugs and herbal drugs and, list of food allergies you have. Your doctor will determine whether the drug is right for you or not.