Taking Lyrica While Pregnant: Everything You Need to Know

Lyrica (pregabalin) is an anticonvulsant that is prescribed to treat nerve pain.

It is classified as a Category C medication. The American Pregnancy Association reports that animal testing of the drug shows some risk to the fetus, but there are not enough controlled studies in human women to indicate potential hazards.

The Medication Guide for Lyrica reported on risk for miscarriage and birth defects in the offspring of rats and rabbits when the drug was tested on these animals. It states that pregnant women should be warned of the potential for harm to the fetus.

Before Stopping Use

Lyrica is also a habit-forming drug that can lead to drug dependence with regular use. Due to this, it should not be stopped suddenly and without medical intervention when the medication has been taken for a long period of time. Difficult cravings and withdrawal side effects can occur, which can be uncomfortable for the mother and also potentially damaging to the fetus.

If you are taking Lyrica and have become pregnant, talk to your medical provider about stopping the drug if you wish to avoid any potential risk of harm to your unborn baby.

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Risks of Taking Lyrica During Pregnancy

There have been studies showing birth defects induced by first-trimester pregabalin use, including congenital malformation, at about a 6 percent risk rate, the journal Neurology publishes.

This is still a very small risk percentage, and the study was considered to be too small to be entirely accurate. Additional limitations of this study include the fact that many of the women reporting birth defects after taking pregabalin were also taking other medications, the Epilepsy Foundation points out. The risk is considered to be moderate.

To minimize any potential risk, a woman who is pregnant or about to become pregnant may wish to stop taking Lyrica.

Again, have a discussion with your medical provider to determine whether Lyrica is safe for you and your unborn baby compared to the risks of your condition not being treated.

Taking Lyrica While Pregnant

The animal trials reported by the Medication Guide for Lyrica indicate the amount of Lyrica that produced negative effects and birth defects was much higher than the recommended dosage — as much as 16 times the human dose.

Lyrica is a drug with a potential for misuse, as The Guardian publishes that it can create a mellowing high that is similar to alcohol intoxication. Lyrica is also commonly misused with other drugs, like opiates, to amplify their effects.

Recreational use of Lyrica during pregnancy can be hazardous to both the mother and the fetus. Use of Lyrica in higher doses than recommended, in a way other than as prescribed, and for nonmedical reasons is risky during pregnancy.

Tolerance and Dependence

Lyrica is a drug that interacts with the natural chemical balance in the brain, causing an increase of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).

GABA is involved in stress modulation. It is an inhibitory chemical messenger that slows down some of the functions of the central nervous system and promotes relaxation. With regular use, the brain begins to tolerate regular levels of Lyrica, and it will take higher doses for similar effects to occur.

Increasing doses can lead to drug dependence. The brain will now expect Lyrica to keep itself balanced chemically.

When pregabalin wears off, difficult withdrawal symptoms can occur. The Indian Journal of Psychiatry reports that these can include anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and potentially self-harming behaviors.

Lyrica is classified as a Schedule V Controlled Substance by the  U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which means that it is considered to have a potential for abuse and dependence.

There are additional possible withdrawal symptoms that can occur when stopping Lyrica.

  • Sweating
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Irregular heart rate and blood pressure
  • Tremors and possible seizures
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia

Recreational use of Lyrica can increase the rate of dependence and the significance of withdrawal symptoms, as can combining the medication with other drugs.

Safely Stopping Lyrica Use

Lyrica is a medication that needs to be tapered off slowly to control the possible withdrawal symptoms. High levels of physical dependence and abuse are best managed through a medical detox program that can treat withdrawal, minimize relapse, and ensure that mom and baby are safe.

If you are pregnant and wish to stop taking Lyrica, a medical detox program is needed. During medical detox, Lyrica is usually weaned out of the body slowly to minimize withdrawal symptoms through a controlled tapering schedule.

Vital signs of both the mom and baby can be monitored continuously, and medical intervention can be provided if needed. Medications may be useful during medical detox to promote stability.

If you are concerned about the potential risk of Lyrica to your unborn baby, address this with your doctor. They can help you pinpoint the risks and how to manage them safely.

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