Short-term use of Xanax?

I am nursing my seven month old and would like to continue until at least a year. However, a severe family crisis is going on and will culminate in the passing of my beloved father in a few months. The stress and anxiety (anxiety bordering on panic) is psychologically and physically wearing me down. I am aware of the pros and cons of prozac (addressed in your data base etc.) but see nothing on Xanax.

I would like to take 5 mg at bedtime a few times a week. I find that since my sleep is so disrupted with panic type dreams and generalized anxiety at the end of the day, that no matter how much "relaxation" exercises I do, I need "something" to sleep and relax deeply. What is your opinion on the use of Xanax? Specifically, I would take it after nursing the baby at his bedtime. His next nursing is at least 11 hours later.


Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

I'm sorry to hear that you are in crisis. Xanax (alprazolam) is a member of the drug family know as benzodiazepines. It is a central nervous system depressant that can interfere with your memory and mental function. It carries a strong risk of addiction. (Addiction to this class of drugs can be one of the most difficult to treat.) Regular use for more than a few nights is probably not a good idea for anyone, whether or not they are breastfeeding. This drug should always be used with caution!

Since Xanax only works to suppress anxiety, it is very important to address the cause of your panic and stress. I would advise working along with a Mental Health Care Professional at this time in your life.

Continue practicing relaxation techniques several times a day, even at times you are not feeling particularly stressed. You might want to use a relaxation tape to guide you. Allow your breathing to become slow and deep. You might want to incorporate your relaxation techniques into your nursing sessions. Many mothers report that nursing in times of extreme stress can be extremely calming to them. Taking full advantage of this natural period of relaxation may be very helpful in reducing your overall stress level.

If you feel that you need a pharmaceutical means of dealing with the extreme stress that you are experiencing, it is very important to discuss alternatives with your Health Care Provider. If you do choose to use Xanax while breastfeeding, it is very important that you let your baby's Health Care Provider know that you are taking this drug. Xanax is thought to be secreted in breastmilk. It has a long half life of between 12 and 15 hours. (Hale 1996) This means it will take that amount of time for half of the drug to leave your system. Another 25% clears over the next 12 to 15 hours, and 12.5% over the next 12 to 15 hours, and so on... When using over a period of days, it could cause sedation, irritability or insomnia in your baby.

Most importantly, don't ignore these feelings that you are experiencing. Get the help you need to deal with this difficult period in your life. Very best wishes to you and your family!


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