Norco During Breastfeeding And Pregnancy

Last Updated: December 18, 2019

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

If a person is pregnant or breastfeeding, is Norco safe? The FDA doesn’t classify the drug to be a risk for pregnant women or an unborn child. The Norco pregnancy category from the FDA is a C. The details of this category mean that there have been studies on animals that have shown adverse effects on their babies. This doesn’t mean it’s safe per se. The studies haven’t been adequate to know for sure just what kind of damage could occur to the fetus. The FDA also states that there are benefits of taking opioid painkillers for pregnant women even though there are also risks. Norco uses are various, but only a prescribing physician should determine whether to use it for each individual case.

What’s important is first to understand what this type of drug is. Norco medication is a brand name and prescription medication. The legal narcotic contains hydrocodone, which is an opioid. Acetaminophen is another ingredient to be found. There are many versions of opioid painkillers on the market. Norco, in particular, is for those experiencing severe pain. The Norco drug class It is an FDA Schedule II classification, which indicates that there is potential for addiction.

Is Norco Safe During Pregnancy?

Many mothers will be concerned about whether there are safety factors in taking Norco while pregnant.

Risks for a fetus

Know that when taking Norco while pregnant may not result in the following harm to a baby. However, these are very real risks. “Drug Interactions at the Human Placenta: What is the Evidence” is just one of the studies conducted about risks for the fetus.

A study on how any prescription medication affects the placenta suggests there are risks.

  • If an opioid is used during pregnancy, an unborn child can become dependent on Norco. When the baby is born, there’s the risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome. Withdrawal treatment for the newborn may be necessary.
  • Congenital disabilities can occur, such as the brain, spine, and spinal cord disorders.
  • The baby may be born with heart problems.
  • Potential problems with the baby’s abdomen can occur, such as intestines sticking out of the body.
  • There is a risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • Hydrocodone can cause respiratory depression in the newborn.
  • Acetaminophen is considered safe to use. Research hasn’t been found to indicate it would cause significant malformations in a fetus. However, studies involving animals have found there to be adverse effects even with doses suggested by physicians. Not enough clinical trials on mothers and fetuses have been done to determine outcomes at this point. However, when rats were tested, consequences resulted in low weight and bone issues.
  • Poor growth, stillbirth, premature birth and the possibility of having to have a c-section are all very real risks that are associated with taking Norco while pregnant.

sad pregnant woman

Risks for women

A study about taking painkillers during pregnancy states what many studies have said. Acetaminophen hasn’t been shown to affect a fetus. However, hydrocodone doesn’t show enough proof of whether or not potential harm can come to the fetus. Hydrocodone is habit-forming, however, and can lead to addiction. Some people may abuse the medication, which would be extremely harmful to a fetus. Experienced users are usually aware of how much Norco to get high is needed, but they barely think about consequences, such as:

  • A risk of addiction, which can lead to problems in pregnancy.
  • Stress from an inability to stop taking painkillers.
  • Stress from what the painkillers might be doing to the baby.
  • Risk of an overdose on Norco.
  • Withdrawing from Norco while pregnant can cause physical and mental complications.

How to Stop Norco Safely During Pregnancy

The US National Library of Medicine released a report on pregnancy and opioids.

Opioids, especially when misused, can cause problems for mothers and babies during pregnancy. Norco in pregnancy should involve caution, taking the lowest dosage for the shortest amount of time possible. Instructions should be followed precisely and if side effects arise, the patient should see a doctor immediately. Expecting mothers should also go to all follow-up appointments.

Norco, while pregnant, is possible, but pain management treatment should not start in the last trimester. Tapering off would be highly recommended before a mother enters into the third trimester. Sudden withdrawal can put the fetus in jeopardy.

An opioid use disorder treatment may involve medication-assisted therapy (MAT). Medicine to prevent major withdrawals and cravings would commence as well as counseling. Also, prenatal care would be implemented, aiding the body to fall back into balance while counteracting potential damage from abusing and withdrawing from opioids. Pregnant women need a specific treatment plan for drug addiction.

woman holding a baby

Taking Norco While Breastfeeding

Taking Norco while breastfeeding is usually not recommended. A database report by LactMed on drugs and lactation says there are Norco side effects that are harmful to the baby. While breastfeeding, this type of medication is not recommended, especially for women who have HIV or have also been taking illegal drugs.

The side effects that come with these medications can influence a baby’s breathing. Make sure to monitor any changes in respiration. A baby may experience drowsiness, and feeding patterns can change. Babies can experience problems even if it’s just a small amount of hydrocodone. For someone taking Norco and breastfeeding, there will be a need to watch the baby carefully.

In most cases, physicians will suggest the mother stop taking Norco while breastfeeding. The alternative is to stop breastfeeding completely. Not only is the baby’s respiratory system in jeopardy withdrawal symptoms can occur in the baby when a mother stops breastfeeding/taking the drug.

Coping with Pain in Pregnancy

In a pre-existing injury that is causing a mother’s pain, exercises may be implemented as a form of relief. For example, exercises that strengthen abdominals eases tension in back muscles. Gentle forms of yoga can be practiced to keep a body more relaxed, easing stress. A pregnancy girdle might also be recommended. Heating pads help eases areas of pain. Even better, chair massage relaxes muscles without putting a fetus in jeopardy.

Physicians may recommend holistic methods as an alternative to Norco instead of pain management for pregnant women. Relaxation, massage, and heat therapy for painful areas should be considered. Acetaminophen has been found safe to use during pregnancy with a small number of narcotic pain meds if necessary.

sad woman near the window

Stay Safe When Pregnant Or Breastfeeding

Prescription opioids painkillers of any kind can be taken when absolutely necessary.

Doctor’s appointments must all be kept, and when an expecting mother senses a building of tolerance to a drug, seeing a doctor is essential. The safest way to stop using Norco is by going to top-rated drug rehabs.

As for taking Norco and breastfeeding, more risks may occur than taking when pregnant because of body absorption. A baby will be ingesting a small amount of medicine if taken while breastfeeding. Significant problems can occur through breastfeeding and taking opioid painkillers. A baby has higher sensitivity and can quickly develop physical symptoms of addiction.

Weighing out risks of continuing the use of Norco while pregnant or breastfeeding is essential. It should be discussed in great length with health professionals.

Page Sources

  1. Miriam Rubinchik-Stern, Sara Eyal. Drug Interactions at the Human Placenta: What is the Evidence? Front Pharmacol. 2012; 3: 126.
  2. Malaika Babb, Gideon Koren, Adrienne Einarson. Treating pain during pregnancy. Can Fam Physician. 2010 Jan; 56(1): 25, 27.
  3. Pregnancy and Opioids. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  4. Hydrocodone. Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed).

Published on: November 7th, 2019

Updated on: December 18th, 2019

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.


Leave a comment