Estimated reading time: 26 minute(s)
Pregnancy is undoubtedly a special and unique experience for women. It marks the beginning of a new chapter as a woman’s body prepares itself to go through mental, emotional, and physical changes to support the development and growth of the baby. As exciting as it may feel, pregnancy is also a critical time that typically comes with many do’s and don’ts. Some suggest avoiding alcohol while others refrain from taking a dip in a hot tub during pregnancy. Medications are also typically on the list with different opinions depending on the type of drug a person consumes.
While there are plenty of medications you may continue taking throughout the nine months of pregnancy, Adderall is not considered safe enough for continued use. So far, there is no definitive conclusion regarding how it affects pregnant women as different experts have varying opinions. So what should you do if you take this medication for your ADHD? Can you take Adderall while pregnant?
How Adderall Works
If you are already taking Adderall, you must know that this drug is used to treat those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some experts also prescribe it to keep the symptoms of narcolepsy under control. But what is this drug and how does it work?
Adderall is a mixture of two different drugs: dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. Both of these drugs work together to trigger the central nervous system and enhance the availability of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Stimulating these neurotransmitters helps the brain improve focus and regulate attention, giving people with ADHD a chance to live normally without any additional difficulties.
Adderall is a successful drug with lots of research backing up its benefits. Experts believe that using it as prescribed can decrease the symptoms of ADHD by 42 percent in most people. In addition to its usual benefits, the daily use of Adderall has also been associated with some drawbacks, regardless of whether a user is pregnant. Some of the proposed side effects of using this drug include the following:
- Weight loss
- Rapid heart rate
- Weight loss
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Numb or cold extremities
Can You Take Adderall While Pregnant?
The Food and Drug Administration has classified Adderall as a pregnancy category C medicine. What this indicates is there are inadequate human studies evaluating the use of this drug in pregnant women. So far, animal studies investigating this correlation have indicated an increased risk to the fetus, making it essential to evaluate the use of Adderall in pregnant women by weighing the pros with the cons.
For someone whose ADHD symptoms are severely disruptive and impact their daily functioning, a doctor may suggest continuing their daily Adderall use even during pregnancy. This critical decision can only be made after a detailed discussion with an obstetric expert. On the contrary, women with mild to moderate ADHD are generally advised to discontinue drug use throughout the nine months. Many experts may consider the possibility of lowering the dose of Adderall during pregnancy. However, because the risk of Adderall to an unborn baby is not fully understood, they are yet to determine a safe dosage for this medication. Some even believe the drug can risk the baby’s health regardless of its dose.
Adderall and Pregnancy: What Possible Complications May Arise
Using Adderall whether you are pregnant or not can come with risks, such as insomnia, headaches, depression, weight loss, and irritability. These undesirable effects usually occur if you have been on this medication for a long time and can quickly turn downright dangerous for your developing baby.
Research has also indicated that dextroamphetamine, an active ingredient in Adderall can lead to low birth weight in newborn babies. A baby with low birth weight usually weighs less than five pounds and eight ounces and can be at an additional risk of developing breathing problems, a compromised immune system, and jaundice.
Adderall also has a very high abuse liability which may make many women dependent on it, especially following long-term use. In such circumstances, this tolerance can further endanger the health of their unborn baby.
Safe Alternatives for Adderall During Pregnancy
If a doctor has advised against using Adderall while pregnant, there are plenty of other options to control the symptoms of ADHD. Some of the non-medical ways to keep these uncomfortable symptoms at bay include the following:
Mindfulness meditation supports the brain to come back to the present moment. It also relieves anxiety while improving focus and emotional regulation. You can also successfully manage other symptoms of ADHD with this simple everyday activity while enhancing your executive functioning.
While many people may not know it, getting a good amount of physical exercise daily can help alleviate the common symptoms of ADHD, such as difficulties with impulsivity, sitting still, focusing, and executive functioning. Studies evaluating the link between ADHD and exercise have found that physical activity positively targets the areas in the brain that ADHD negatively affects.
Also known as Neurotherapy, neurofeedback is a non-medicinal alternative for controlling ADHD symptoms. It involves a series of sessions where an expert places electrodes on a patient’s head to monitor what their brain is doing and how it functions on a screen. This treatment allows them to better understand the working of their patients’ brains and help them learn how to change and improve their neurological operations to manage ADHD.
If you are struggling with ADHD, knowing what is best for you and your developing baby can sometimes feel very difficult. Know that there is a very delicate balance between keeping your unborn child safe and taking care of your own mental health. Though Adderall may not be the best or the safest choice for most pregnant women, some women have strong enough reasons to continue using it even during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant and unsure what to do about your Adderall use, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor about your concerns. Even if you feel like you have become dependent on the drug, there is no shame in admitting it. Take action as quickly as possible and choose the right means to secure your mental health while keeping your baby safe and sound.
Can Adderall Make Conception difficult?
There is not enough evidence to suggest the role of Adderall in making pregnancy difficult or impairing fertility in any way. Some results have been observed in animal models, but the research studies evaluating them were usually of poor quality, and their results were poorly reported.
Should I stop taking Adderall if I find out I am pregnant?
While a negative association exists between the use of Adderall and pregnancy, you must never stop taking your medication or change its dose as soon as you find out that you are pregnant. The best advice is to schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible and let them assess the risks and benefits of continuing the medication in accordance with your individual circumstances. Even if a doctor suggests stopping Adderall, they may advise you to taper down slowly instead of stopping it cold turkey to avoid unwanted withdrawal side effects.
I have been taking Adderall for a long time before realizing that I am pregnant. What will happen now?
If you had been taking Adderall before you knew about your pregnancy, reassure yourself that you are not alone and this has happened to many women before you. If you took a pregnancy test around the time of your missed period, it is likely that the fetus has not formed an umbilical cord which means the drug you had been taking for the past few weeks never reached your developing baby. If you have been taking Adderall for more than five weeks into your pregnancy, a doctor may suggest doing additional tests to rule out any possible birth defects. Know that the risk of these birth effects is still relatively low and it is not too late to stop the medication even now.
Can I take Adderall occasionally during pregnancy?
The amount of Adderall or the length of its exposure to a developing fetus needed to pose a significant risk is currently unknown. Experts are still not sure if this drug’s occasional use is safe. Until we have a definitive answer, the best approach is to follow an expert’s opinion as much as possible.
When can I restart taking Adderall?
You may restart taking Adderall as soon as you have given birth. Once the doctor cuts the umbilical cord, you do not have any reason to worry about the drug transferring from your body to your baby’s. If you have been using any medications during or after delivery, consult a doctor before restarting Adderall to rule out any risk of cross-interactions.
Can I take Adderall after pregnancy if I am breastfeeding?
As with pregnancy, there is not enough data conclusively indicating the safety of taking Adderall during breastfeeding. The biggest concern a doctor may have is the possibility of the drug passing onto the baby’s body through breast milk and leading to unwanted side effects, like restlessness, loss of appetite, and failure to thrive. The drug may also mess with the milk production in the mother’s body.
While studies so far confirm the ability of Adderall to pass on to breast milk, the risk of its side effects in the breastfed is minimal, as long as a mother is taking it as prescribed. However, remember that the long-term effects of Adderall use in breastfeeding mothers are not well-studied. Due to these conflicting data, it is best to discuss the risks and benefits of taking Adderall during breastfeeding with a lactation consultant.
When to stop taking Adderall before pregnancy?
If you are trying to get pregnant, talk to a doctor about what to do about your Adderall use. A doctor may not necessarily stop you from using it. The final decision depends on your individual circumstances and how well-controlled your ADHD is.