Suboxone is beneficial in opioid addiction treatment, but new and expecting mothers may wonder if this medication is safe to take, since some drugs can be harmful for a baby or developing fetus. Below, learn about the safety of Suboxone and breastfeeding, as well as general information about the safety of taking Suboxone while pregnant. 

Is It Safe To Take Suboxone While Pregnant?

Expecting mothers who are in recovery may wonder if they can take Suboxone when pregnant. Fortunately, research has found that the drug is safe for use during pregnancy. Numerous studies conducted with pregnant women have found that there were no serious negative outcomes to mother or baby when mothers used Suboxone or other medications for opioid addiction treatment during pregnancy.

Research further suggests that babies exposed to Suboxone in utero are less likely to require treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) when compared to babies exposed to other drugs, such as methadone, used in medication-assisted treatment.

NAS is a condition that can occur in newborns exposed to opioids during a mother’s pregnancy. Babies can become dependent upon the drugs in utero and then undergo withdrawal symptoms after birth, when they are no longer exposed to the drugs while in the mother’s womb.

Studies do suggest that taking Suboxone while pregnant can be safe, and babies born on Suboxone are less likely to experience withdrawal when compared to those exposed to other opioids. If you have additional questions about whether it is safe for you to continue taking your medication while pregnant, consult with your Suboxone doctor to determine the best option for your unique needs. 

Can You Take Suboxone While Breastfeeding?

It is common for people to ask, “Is it safe for breastfeeding mothers to take drugs like Suboxone or buprenorphine?” Very low levels of buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone, are transferred to the infant when breastfeeding. Based upon this fact, Suboxone while breastfeeding is generally regarded as safe. 

That being said, each baby is different, and it is important to monitor your baby for adverse reactions, such as sleepiness, breathing problems, and inadequate weight gain, if you are using Suboxone and breastfeeding. 

Can Suboxone Hurt My Baby?

The biggest concern among mothers who are taking Suboxone and breastfeeding, or who are taking Suboxone while pregnant, is whether the medication can harm the baby. Studies have shown that an infant whose mother takes Suboxone while breastfeeding receives under 1% of the maternal weight-adjusted dose of buprenorphine, which suggests that small amounts of the drug are transferred to the baby, and harm to the baby is unlikely. 

In some cases, babies may experience Suboxone withdrawal symptoms after birth when no longer exposed to the drug via the mother. Other babies may undergo withdrawal symptoms if they have been breastfed while the mother takes Suboxone and the mother stops breastfeeding. In these cases, a baby can be treated medically to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. 

While there is a risk that babies will experience withdrawal after birth or following the cessation of breastfeeding while on Suboxone, it is important to recognize the harmful effects of breastfeeding and substance use. If taking Suboxone while breastfeeding prevents a mother from abusing illicit opioids like heroin, the risk of harm to the baby is reduced. 

Tips For Breastfeeding Mothers Taking Suboxone

If you’re considering taking Suboxone and breastfeeding, it is important to understand Suboxone nursing considerations so that you can keep your baby as safe and as healthy as possible. The tips below are helpful for mothers taking Suboxone while breastfeeding. 

Keep In Touch With Your Doctor 

While Suboxone is generally regarded as safe for use while breastfeeding, it is critical that you monitor your baby’s symptoms and keep in touch with your Suboxone doctor, as well as the baby’s pediatrician, regarding any negative side effects you notice. 

Do Not Breastfeeding After Using An Illegal Opioid

The intent of taking Suboxone and breastfeeding is to maintain your abstinence from illegal drugs so that you do not harm yourself or your baby with substance abuse. If you relapse to drug use while breastfeeding, it is important to refrain from breastfeeding your infant until the opioid has cleared from your system. 

For example, if you relapse to heroin use while breastfeeding, you must avoid breastfeeding until you are medically cleared to do so. Exposure to heroin in breastmilk can lead to serious problems, such as breathing difficulties, excessive sleepiness, and withdrawal symptoms in infants. 

Continue With Behavioral Treatments

Using Suboxone and breastfeeding can help you to stay abstinent so that you can fulfill your caretaking duties as a new mother. While this medication can relieve drug cravings, it does not address the underlying issues that led to addiction. For this reason, it is helpful if you continue with behavioral treatments like counseling to maintain your recovery. 

Additional FAQs

If you’re looking for answers to the question, “Can you breastfeed while on Suboxone?” the answers to the following FAQs may also be helpful. 

Can You Breastfeed While On Methadone? 

Taking methadone while breastfeeding can be safe, as minimal amounts of methadone are transferred through breast milk. While methadone is an option for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, babies born on Suboxone may have better outcomes compared to those born on methadone. 

Research has shown that babies born to mothers who took methadone during pregnancy are more likely to be low birth weight, and they require longer hospital stays for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) when compared to babies whose mothers took buprenorphine. 

How Long After Taking Opioids Can You Breastfeed?

Taking opioids like buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone, is generally considered safe while breastfeeding. If you use an illegal opioid like heroin, or misuse  a prescription opioid while breastfeeding, you should not breastfeed again until the opioid has cleared from your body. Consult with your doctor regarding when it is safe to resume breastfeeding. 

Is Naloxone Safe For Breastfeeding? 

People often ask about the safety of buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone, for breastfeeding infants, but it is important to consider that the medication also contains naloxone. Naloxone is not likely to harm a breastfeeding infant; however if you take this medication to treat an opioid overdose, you should not breastfeed again until the opioid has cleared from your body. 

Consult With Confidant’s Suboxone Doctors Online 

If you’re looking for convenient opioid addiction treatment, working with online Suboxone doctors through Confidant Health may be a suitable option for you. Simply download our app, and you’ll have access to medication-assisted treatment from the comfort of home. Download Confidant’s app today on either the Apple Store or the Google Play Store to consult with Suboxone doctors who will support you through the stages of pregnancy and breastfeeding.