It’s a scene many moms are familiar with. You’ve recently given birth and you’re frazzled as hell. Maybe your baby won’t stop crying, you can’t get anything done around the house, and you feel like you’re going to lose it. Maybe your anxiety is through the roof and you find yourself on the verge of a panic attack. Before your baby, perhaps you would have taken a pill to help with your anxiety. But now that you’re a nursing mom, you’re wondering can you breastfeed on Xanax? With so many messages about how moms are poisoning their babies through breastmilk — whether it’s due to what they’re eating or the fact that they’re texting while nursing — consuming anything that’s not organic and unprocessed has the potential to make you feel like a terrible mother (spoiler alert — you’re not.)
But the truth of the matter is, the postpartum months are some of the toughest times you’ll ever have. You’re an emotional mess due to hormonal changes and, if you’re nursing, you’re sharing your body with another human. Finding time to shower, let alone take care of your mental health, can feel impossible. So it’s perfectly normal to feel like you need a little relief sometimes, whether it’s in the form of a stiff drink or a little white pill. And while we often hear about postpartum depression, we don’t often hear about postpartum anxiety — even though it affects up to 10 percent of new moms, according to Postpartum Support International.
Postpartum anxiety can make you doubt yourself and your parenting abilities, or it can make you feel paranoid that something is wrong with your baby. You may have racing thoughts or find yourself unable to sleep. It can be a scary, lonely time. So it makes sense that you might be a nursing mom who is looking for ways to cope with feelings of anxiety. But before you decide which anxiety-relieving method you’re going to use, it’s important to know if it’s safe for your baby. First and most importantly is, if you’re having any of these thoughts or feelings, you should talk to your doctor about what’s going on and what your options might be.
Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a form of benzodiazepine, which is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. According to LactMed, a database of drugs and their effect on lactation, alprazolam is probably not the best benzodiazepine for repeated use during nursing due to reports of sedation in infants. That being said, LactMed indicates that a single dose of Xanax should be fine if you’re taking it for immediate relief because you’re about to have a panic attack. But if you’re looking for anxiety relief on a regular basis, LactMed suggests taking a shorter-acting benzo like Lorazepam. But again, it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking anything.
Although moms are often inundated with “breast is best” messages (and while it’s true that there are many benefits to breastfeeding, for both mom and baby), taking care of your own mental health is imperative, too. You won’t be able to be the kind of parent you want to be if you’re ignoring your own needs. If you’re feeling more anxious than usual post-baby, talk to your provider. There are many ways to deal with postpartum anxiety, and medication is just one of them. Whatever you decide, if your anxiety is elevated after having a baby, know that you’re not abnormal and you’re not alone.