Planning A Medicated Pregnancy: Dr. P

Nathan and I went to Manhattan last Thursday to meet Dr. P; my psychiatrist had referred me to Dr. P for her expertise in perinatal mental health (translation: medication and mental health during pregnancy and the postpartum period). We talked about my history, my symptoms, the triggers for those symptoms; I explained that because transitions are the worst trigger for my anxiety and out-of-control anxiety triggers depression, I do not see a way through pregnancy and childbirth (the biggest transition ever) without medication. She asked which medications I take. I told her. She asked Nathan how he felt about me taking medication during pregnancy (100% in favor).

Dr. P: In an ideal world, when would you start trying to conceive?

Me: January.

Dr. P: This January?

Me: Yep.

Dr. P: Two months! Wow, that’s… a little soon. I’m not saying wait a year, but definitely more than two months…

Me: You said “ideal.”

Then came the science. In sum, the good news is this: the drugs that have worked best for me, Effexor XR and Klonopin, are prescribed often, have been taken by many pregnant women and many of these pregnancies and the children born have been tracked by doctors. The bad news is that because it’s not ethical to run “randomized controlled studies” (proper drug trials) on pregnant ladies. You see, we don’t actually know that pregnant women will harm a fetus by taking your average prescription medication, but we’d have to risk a whole lot of harm in order to find out. Animal trials are useful because they let us test out chemicals in highly controlled environments. So how do we know anything about pregnant women and drugs? Researchers get women who are already pregnant and already taking a drug like Klonopin to take tests and document as many details as possible about their pregnancies and the health of their children. An example of one problem with gathering information this way: recently, the New York Times published an article about a study linking antidepressant use to increased rates of Autism. Dr. P mentioned this study and said that because all it shows is a possible correlation (link, connection) and doesn’t tell us anything about causation, there’s no way of knowing if that link to autism is because of the medication or because of depression. Catch that? If you take antidepressants while pregnant, you might put your child at a higher risk for autism. But there’s also a pretty good chance that if you don’t take your meds and you become depressed, only then is there a higher risk that your child will be autistic. There’s definitely a correlation between age and autism, so you also have to factor in all the women in that study who are, oh, no one knows, maybe over 35? Oh, and Effexor is similar to Zoloft, but not exactly the same, so there’s really no way of knowing whether that study does, in fact, apply to me. But don’t worry, the risk is still small. (Feel better? Me neither.)

So here’s what Dr. P told us to think about: what if we are in fact the couple who has the child with, say, autism? If you are that family, the fact that the odds are tiny tend to matter, well, not at all. Will we be able to cope with the knowledge that my medication may have contributed to that child’s illness? or birth defect? Yes, and I’ll tell you why: no one will ever know whether my medication did anything specific except make a significant contribution to my own mental well-being.

I know, I was surprised, too. But check this out:

[quote]Based on experimental animal studies, venlafaxine [Effexor] … [is] not anticipated to increase the risk of congenital abnormalities. A study published in abstract has suggested an increase in some malformations based on small numbers of exposed individuals. Transient and usually mild neonatal complications have been reported for venlafaxine and other serotonergic antidepressants. –Reprotox database of potential teratogens [/quote]

Translation: The drug doesn’t cause birth defects in rat or rabbit babies. As for human beings, one study (for real, just one–the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, 2010) found some (very few) cases of cleft palate, limb defects, gastroschisis and heart defects.

And this is about Klonopin, the benzodiazepine that I thought was too dangerous to take during pregnancy:

“Based on experimental animal studies and human pregnancy experience, clonazepam [Klonopin] therapy is not anticipated to increase the risk of congenital malformations. The risk of mild transient neonatal complications may be increased when this drug is used in combination with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. –Reprotox database of potential teratogens”

Translation: We don’t see any birth defects when Klonopin is the only medication used. In combination with an SSRI (I take an SNRI, but they’re very similar), it might cause problems for babies just after they’re born. The “complications” are mild because they mostly include feeling mild withdrawal after birth. There have been babies born with birth defects to mothers who took Klonopin during the first trimester (when “physical abnormalities” occur). It’s not clear that Klonopin exposure caused those birth defects. Here’s an example: one study in Hungary looked at 22,865 babies exposed to one of five benzodiazepines, including Klonopin, in the first trimester and found 57 “affected” infants. Out of 38,151 babies not exposed, 75 were “affected.” Reprotox says that “These data … showed no increased teratogenic risk associated with benzodiazepine exposures.” And so on.

I have another appointment with Dr. P in two weeks to discuss “a timeline” and plan when exactly it’s a good idea to start trying to conceive. In the meantime, I am no longer taking BuSpar, because my psychiatrist and I think it was actually making me feel worse, and I’m about to start a prenatal vitamin regimen.  Oh, and Nathan and I are disgustingly mushy about this whole baby possibility. Our conversation over brunch at Alice’s Teacup after the appointment was too ridiculous to repeat!

So there’s no way to know for sure, but it seems like combining Effexor XR (generic) and Klonopin (also generic) will be safer than my other options. That’s the plan. It might change, but it’s a thoughtful plan. And yes, I do have a headache.


  1. says

    Best of luck to you as you start your family. My daughter went off her antidepressants with her first pregnancy, and the PPD was hell for all of us. She stayed medicated throughout her second pregnancy, and had a wonderful experience with her newborn. Both of those children, by the way, are healthy and lively and bright. Take care of yourself.

    • Anne-Marie says

      Thank you for sharing, Cynthia! We need to share our stories so that we learn that all we can do is make choices and hope for the best. And I love hearing from a supportive mother and grandmother. I bet you have been a huge help to your daughter and her family.

      • ayanna says

        I’m 6w4days my psychiatrist told me to stop lamictol 300 mg lexapro 20 and klonopin 2 mg over the course of 4 days when I found out I was pregnant so I did .. THEN all hell broke loose I could barely drive let alone think I had a studer shaking hands worrying crying just scared for my life going crazy type feeling ..outerbody feeling I go to the doc Friday I started taking the klonopin again but not the other meds how on earth am I supposed to get through a pregnancy like that its impossible! So I’ll tell my doctors when I see them ..I do not want my baby coming out with issues I’m already the mother of 3 girls I have to stay sane .. I have no support ..I mean my husband is here but you don’t know anxiety and bipolar till you yourself have gone through it .

        • Jessica says

          Telling you to stop the lamictal 300 me over the course of 4 days is massively incorrect advice from a dr. Stopping that quickly can cause seizures and other severe problems. I had to take almost a month to get off 300 mgs of Lamictal. I hope everything is going ok.

        • Angelwaitingq says

          I’ve been on klonopin since 17 now 33 severe panic attacks I would be taken to er for heart attack signs I didn’t understand at first. My family doctor gave Xanax worked but just slept then sent to psychologist introduced to many antidepressants every side effect possible plus I had finally paid to see psychiatric private practice was told I was a pig experiment used and was taken off everything and given klonopin and given a klonopin wafer in office and told wait in waiting room after not long every odd feeling was gone and has been since. Now I was on 4 -1mg day upprd to 6 a day thru out the long Years on it 2 times I didn’t have it once lost on vacation other lost accidently I shook horrible nothing helped did bad breathing everything right when I call 911 I went into a seizure and it happened both times. I don’t recommend just stopping this AT ALL! A year after this I was so pissed I winged Myself off from six 1-MG a day to 2-1mg a day it took a year and taking benadryl with it and every 2-3 weeks go down one dose smaller. It controls your muscles as in twitching and stops panic as in dying heart attack can’t breathe sweating fire feeling shooting up my back and more my mom had bipolar and out of us kids we each got something mine panic disorder. If I don’t take it it’s not good. I’m 33 now and scared but planning my first and if only pregnancy that’s a miracle and all I want in life I’m scared for sure but plan on going down to 1mg a day thru this nothing else works on me to stable me period. But having seizures and no sleep freaking out and musle contractions in my whole body with out of body light headed foggy can’t think I believe is more harmful and death to both. Being monitored and routine checkup is my high priority thru this. For the record I’ve never drank or done drugs because of my disorder it’s passed from my mother but not bipolar just horrible panic disorder controlled with klonopin and counseling techniqueservices breathing etc learned thru the years.

  2. Anon E. Mouse says

    Just found out I am expecting….not planned, while taking high doses of Effexor XR, klonopin to sleep, an various other medications. Nice to know not everything is a horror story!

      • Tara says

        I recently found out im ptegnate. im 8 weeks. Im very concerned because a couple weeks before I found out I had taken at least 4 mg of klodopin every day for at least two weeks straight. I am so scared and was wondering if anyone else had taken that many in first trimester and if so how is baby? Im a nervous wreck.

  3. says

    Thank you for this post. I went med free for my first pregnancy, it was really hard, but I made it. But thinking about number two I know things will be way harder, because I’ll have a 2 year old to take care of. So I don’t think I will try it med free the second time around. I found a really supportive psychiatrist, luckily. Also know that the vast majority of meds are safe during breastfeeding too, in fact more meds are safe then, very few are not safe.

    • says

      The American Academy of Pediatrics published a study of “maternal medications” in breadtfeeding, and they found very few instances of side effects in babies. A friend of mine has a baby who cannot tolerate even the lowest dose of an SSRI in mom’s milk. It’s a tough choice! But for the vast majority of families, antidepressants are much safer than people think during pregnancy and breadtfeeding.

    • Jennifer says

      I also had a drug-free pregnancy for my first child and now I’m starting the process of trying to conceive a second. My anxiety started after my first child was born and I have such a hard time thinking of taking medication during my second pregnancy when I didn’t need it for my first . As of right now, I take .25mg on Clonzepam. Post like this are so essential for women like me who feel such a stigma attached to taking medication when pregnant . THANK YOU EVERYONE for sharing your stories!

  4. Ashley says

    Thank you so very much for this blog. I am 18 weeks and taking an sari and low dose of klonopin for severe depression and anxiety. I can’t tell you what your blog has done for me and knowing I am not alone… :-)

    • Angela says

      Me too! Exactly the same. I am on 0.5 mg clonazepam and just found out I’m 5 weeks along – big surprise as I am 37 and just went off birth control in August! I freaked out bc of the clonazepam and my OB wants me off of it, but my Psych doc says it’s OK and I should just relax. An anxiety attack would be more harmful at this point that a low dose of clonazepam. Thank you!!

      • says

        My philosophy, when I get conflicting advice, is to think about who has more specialized knowledge in the area. Your OB knows about pregnancy. Your psychiatrist knows about psychiatric medications. In your shoes, I’d ask for the reasons (and copies of the data) behind each recommendation from each doc, and then decide. When I was asking about breastfeeding and meds, I was concerned about my baby’s health and safety. So, a psychiatrist told me I couldn’t breastfeed safely on Klonopin, but a pediatrician and breastfeeding specialist told me that it was safe. I trusted the doctor whose specialty was the health of babies. Hugs! This is hard!

      • jessica says

        thank u for that post. i am on the same medicine and dosage. my ob wants me off it. but i am waiting 4 my mental doctor to say so. i had ppd during and after. couldnt be alone. i am not relapsing again.

  5. Mary says

    I am 30 weeks pregnant and taking klonipin! So far so good! I also have a 5yr old daughter & took them while pregnant with her! No withdrawals! Very smart & is on her fall break. She’s asked today when can she go back to school. Very eager to learn & has only been the first real blessing in my life! Now can’t wait for blessing # 2! Always think positive & know God’s watching over us & our little ones! Stress is not good when pregnant!!! Pray & give it to God…

    • Mary says

      I have been on them more than half of my life so that’s another thing I wanted to fill everyone in on. I don’t want to scare anyone but it seems like I do continue to see lots of lawsuits on tv about taking antidepressants while pregnant! Your the best advocate for your child. Do your research & try not to listen to people who haven’t walked in your shoes… May God bless all you mommas & babies! *** Plz don’t take my experience & go with it! I’m not a doctor or nurse! However, you know your body & sometimes YOU are going to just know what to do!

      • says

        Mary, I created this space so that people could share stories freely and safely, not for advice. Doctors give too much advice. We do get to share information, when we come across it, but there is so little out there. I always say the same thing, by the way–not a doctor! I had a healthy pregnancy, gorgeously healthy baby. All I know is what I have experienced. May God bless ALL the mamas with great providers and healthy babies and, as you point out, faith in what our bodies and our hearts tell us.

  6. Mary says

    I was not trying to give advice! If it came across that way… I APOLOGIZE! I do believe I said that! Ive had a great experience with both of my pregnancys & that’s truely what I wanted mothers to be to know! This site helped me & relieved me as well. That was my main goal… to help not come across in a negative way!!! I’ve been totally honest with my doctor’s who have prescribed my medicine & that’s the best way to be! God Bless all of you :) Again… Im sorry if I said anything wrong.

  7. Mary says

    Another comment… I’m sorry! I would love to be able to help any mother in any way I could! I’d wrap my arms around any expecting mother having a hard time, hold there hand, talk & cry with them anytime they are having a hard time! I really am the nicest person & have such a huge heart! I believe in loving & being supportive. Compassion & understanding are all the great gifts Gods blessed us with! I wish I could do more… I always say to surround yourself with positive people & that’s what I need to do here! May you read this & know your not alone! God’s always there! Stay strong & remember that stress isn’t good for mother or baby…

  8. Patty says

    I do not have a baby yet, but I am on klonopin and Percocet for a few surgeries I recently had…. It’s so hard to get off klonopin and I am trying to keep a low dose so when I do decide to have a baby it won’t be so bad but I don’t think I will be able to come off do to the fact that the last time I did I became very depressed and suicidal, which I’m sure is horrible for a baby during pregnancy. This blog has helped so much and has calmed me down because I am so scared to come off of these meds. However I am 35 am I am also afraid I may be getting older and that will cause problems… I am not married, I’m from a abusive marriage of only 8 months but divorced and do have a boyfriend for a year. I guess at this point, day and age you don’t have to be married to have a baby but it really would be nice. If anyone has anything they can share about age and meds that would really help. And thank you all for all the great posts, they were all very helpful!

  9. Kristin Kossack says

    Thank you so very much for this. I was taking 4 mg/day of Klonopin as a standing dose when I discovered we were pregnant with Peanut-the-Third. I have been taking various SSRIs and anti-anxiety meds since I was 18. I am now 37. The Klonopin is relatively new to me but works wonders. When I found out I was pregnant I instantly flushed my medication. Impulsive and asinine. My symptoms rebounded with ferocity. As I am in between psychiatrists I consulted with my OB (after 10 of the LONGEST days ever spent), and we decided to try 3 mg/day PRN until I resume treatment at the end of the month with a new psychiatrist;; the goal being to find the lowest effective dose.

    I was unmedicated my first and second pregnancies; the second was very trying psychologically. My mother had passed, we were (and are) in financial trouble; I had lost a job. In short, CHANGES then and CHANGES now. Positive or negative, the constant flux of the past 4 years has worn me out. I want to be healthy in my soul, mind, and body. Taking this medication means my daughter doesn’t ask other people why Mommy walks around crying. It allows me to work. I can breathe. I can enjoy my children; my family; me.

    My husband has become progressively more supportive of my choice to use medication, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Of course I am terrified of any risk I may generate and am ashamed in a way that I can’t muster enough strength to see my way through without medication. I feel at times as though I should be able to pull myself up by the proverbial bootstraps and WILL myself calm. The Universe knows I’ve tried.

    I am grateful for others’ experiences, thoughts, and opinions. The support is sanity-sustaining. Please let this be a healthy pregnancy. My love and good thoughts to all who have these types of decisions to make. May you all have the love and support I’ve been blessed with. May our children be healthy.

    Thank you again!

    • Kristin says

      Also, and forgive me if you’ve mentioned this previously (I am new to your site), there is an AED Registry run thru Mass General collecting information on women using AEDs during pregnancy (you do not have to be using the medication for anti-epileptic reasons).
      The contact info is:

      As I believe a great part of the Class C or D designation of these meds is due to lack of adequate research, please consider this Registry. You may help a future mother.


      • Mary says

        Hi! I had my baby & great news… The 1 mg I was taking the whole entire 40 weeks & 4 days didn’t cross over into my placenta! He weighed 7 pounds 9 oz…. THAT’S MY EXPERIENCE! I was very honest with all my doctors & Ob! Immediately after I had him I told the nurses… I’ve been taking klonipin & want to make sure baby doesn’t withdrawal! Worried a great deal & told all the nurses in nursery. I stressed out my whole pregnancy & so relieved I was honest with anyone who came in contact with my lil boy! I’m so greatful no problems with him. Happy & I know the nurses were sick of me telling them!!! I probably made them crazy! This is only my situation but a very positive one! I hope that I can give a little hope to someone out there… Ladies-the best advice I can give… be honest with your doctors PLZ PLZ PLZ!!! If your going through a pregnancy & taking klonipin or anything that can harm your baby let the doctor know! U will feel soooooo much better & if your newborn needs any kinda medicine they know how to help them! God Bless all of you! This is my second baby with great news! Now I’m so tired I will post later! Goodnight to all & don’t stress mommy’s! That’s just bad for you & baby!

        • says

          Hi Mary! I’m so glad you had a good experience. I completely agree that honesty is the way to go. The worst that can happen is a bad response, and that just says “switch providers!” or “tell a supervisor!” I do have to point out that telling anxious mothers, “don’t stress,” could be rephrased into more helpful advice… Shall we say, “take care of yourselves” instead? It always makes me anxious when I’m told to relax! LOL

  10. alison says

    i know this post is super old but i just wanted to say i was so relived to find something positive. I’ve been reading nothing but horror stories and i just cant handle it. with my hormones rages, my wait changed and having mental health issues, i was crying at least 4 times a day about the Clonazepam i am taking. Will it harm my baby? will i be okay without it? I go to the doctors on the 23rd and i plan on being 100% honest with all of them. I’m scared they will freak out and take me off immediately! but i need to bee honest and express how i feel….or how i will feel if im not on medication. I just want the baby… and myself…. to be okay! :) Praying hard!

    • says

      I have put a good amount of time into making sure that my posts show up when women like us Google phrases like “pregnancy and clonazepam” – I want to share my happy alternative to the fear mongering idiots posting nonsense! I am glad that it helped, in your case, and wish you all the best! Get in touch any time. I mean that!

  11. Rebecca says

    I was on Effexor, ativan and Seroquel (for anxiety & sleep, respectively) when I got pregnant for the first time (unplanned) with my daughter. I weaned off of them, and felt physically and mentally awful. But my daughter was born healthy and happy, aside from having the 100% correctable condition of bilateral clubfeet. I was hard on myself about that, and m\her dad’s mother blamed me for her condition. The fact is, almost all cases of clubfeet happen due to low fluid or shape of uterus. Now she is 3 years old and smart as a whip! And walking fine.
    The point of my comment is to lower the fears about medication-induced fetal abnormalities, as I really think my daughter may have simply had a bad position in the womb. I want to start trying for #2 later this year, but am still on 2mg of klonopin nightly for sleep. My psychiatrist fiance wants me off of all meds before trying to conceive but I am almost off of a 7 month long methadone taper. and that alone has been hard enough! Thank you all for your stories, they certainly calm my fears.

  12. Jen says

    Hi Anne-Marie, I just wanted to thank you for this website. I am newly pregnant and take Effexor for anxiety. The hormones in pregnancy unfortunately do not help my anxiety, they make it worse….and then the depression hits. I was ok at first but am currently struggling. I have taken klonopin in the past during this time of pregnancy (that preg did not work out sadly). I just took my first pill, .25 mg today as I hardly slept last night. I feel guilty for taking it…I was hoping I wouldn’t need to. But I can’t function like this. Just wanted to say I’m grateful I found this site and you inspire me!

  13. Anna Chapman says

    I am 18 weeks pregnant and suffered from severe anxiety/depression/insomnia/panic attacks. I have tried all the meds, and the only one that works for me is Klopin. All I take is 2mg at night. No more, no less ever. My doc is completely at ease with this now, throughout the remainder of the pregnancy and breastfeeding. I have 2 other children aged 7 and 4 and I did not take Klopin/clonazepam with them, with #1 I did not take anything but resorted to drinking when I couldn’t handle the stress, #2 took valium, did not drink but was extremely stressed the whole pregnancy and resultingly had a slightly low birth weight child (30mg shy of normal), and with the clonazepam/Klopin I feel fantastic. I am not stressed, not anxious, no panic, just normal. I like normal and my active and very healthy looking/sounding baby is too :) I am assured that the dose of clonazepam I am taking is extremely unlikely to cause any problems whatsoever, and already know there are no defects. Just my story, but if it helps anyone, good.

    • says

      It’s interesting, isn’t it, how rarely anyone mentions the side effects of stress from untreated anxiety and panic? Women are told not to stress, of course, but we are also faced with guilt trips from strangers if we need medication to reduce the stress our own brains produce.
      Thank you for sharing your story!

  14. Jen says

    Yes thank you! I am taking Effexor but don’t feel stressed about that. I am sitting here feeling very anxious right now, thinking about taking a klonopin pill, and beating myself up about it. I am just in such a bad place, feeling sick, scarred and stressed. It would be nice to feel normal again.

  15. Ashley says

    I have to tell you how relieved this blog has made me. I had a child four almost five years ago and did it by taking only Zyrtec D after my second trimester. Now, prior to that I had been a drinker and smoker, but I cut the drinking out cold turkey prior to finding out I was pregnant, and quit smoking the week I found out I was pregnant. With that being said, I went from 0 – insane within the first 6 weeks of my pregnancy. There was no gradual hormonal rage, it was just immediate insanity. I didn’t sleep the entire pregnancy, I was pissed off ALL the time, I was freaking out over everything. Little did I know what I had considered to just be “my personality” all my life was actually severe anxiety that I had let go untreated for 30 years. After I had my son I was thinking to myself, “wow, now I can get some sleep and calm down and get back to normal”.

    There is a condition that takes place with mothers after giving birth that OB’s are just now giving proper attention to. Most women are automatically considered “depressed” if they show any signs of “not being themselves” after having a child, when in fact, about 40% of the women they attempt to diagnose as depressed are actually dealing with postpartum anxiety. So, to my point. After a good two months of feeling like I was going completely insane, my doctor decided that I needed to be placed on an SSRI. Well, I took it begrudgingly (I always refused to take medication as a child and adult prior) and everything I feared about taking medication took place. I couldn’t sleep, I was wired, I couldn’t eat. My brain was just in a fog and I immediately flushed the pills down the toilet and told my doctor there was no way I was taking that route. I told her “Is there anything I can take that will just calm me down on an as needed basis? I am not depressed! I’m just having panic attacks and need to sleep!” Thus begin my trip down Klonopin lane. Best thing ever to happen to me besides the birth of my son. Seriously, I never knew life could be so pleasant! I didn’t know I could go through out the day without freaking out on someone or wanting to cuss someone out. I had done that my entire life! PLUS, added bonus I COULD SLEEP!!!!!

    Now, here’s where the guilt comes in. My husband and myself included very much so wanted a sibling for our son, but I just could not bring myself to bring a child into this world on medication, nor could I bring myself to go through that hell I went through for 9 months sans medication. No sleep for 9 months? Are you insane? I’ve just started to enjoy life!!! So about two years ago I attempted to wean myself off of Klonopin and Valium (yea don’t even get me started on the moron who thought I should take both). Doing this placed me in the hospital because I was convinced I was dying. I couldn’t function. God help me if I had to leave the house. I was puking and losing weight like crazy. I couldn’t even stand to be around my child because I didn’t want him to see mommy cry or crazy. Finally I hit my breaking point and told my husband it wasn’t worth it. I wanted to enjoy life and my child. So I went back on the klonopin. Things have been well, except for that guilt of not having another child. I have scoured the internet for years trying to find anything GOOD or positive about taking it while pregnant and didn’t find anything until your blog. I also got a new OB who is with the same practice I used prior, but isn’t as stuck up. He told me “women walk into my office everyday on medication that’s ten times worse than than what you take, I deliver healthy happy babies to them, so why on earth would I have you risk your own mental health to have a child?”. I couldn’t believe what he was telling me. He continued by saying “an entire generation, my generation, were born to mothers on “mommy’s little helper” which happens to be a benzo, and we all turned out just fine. So do I think you taking 2mg a day of Klonopin is going to put you or your child at risk? Yes, but it’s the same risk if you were to have a child and not be medicated as there are no controlled studies that state it raises the risk of deformities or anything else”. With that being said, and my novel being over, I’m happy to state that we are going to try to give our son a sibling now. Thank you for this site. Thank you for calming me down about my decision. Thank you for understanding.

    By the way, have any of you had any issues with continuing the drug in the last trimester and your child going through withdraw on a small dose?

    • says

      I’m glad my story could help! My baby had a few symptoms that were less than ideal, but the pediatrician and the nurses all told me that they had seen babies of unmedicated mothers with exactly the same things – muscle tension that was a bit higher than they would like, and “excessive” sleepiness. I strongly suspect that if I had had a home birth, no one would have noticed anything but the muscle tension, and that had disappeared in under 2 days. I hope that you have a baby as healthy and wonderful and easy to love as mine!

    • Mina says

      I was on clonazepam my entire pregnancy. My son had no withdrawal or other side effects after delivery. I also nursed him for a little over a year and he had no ill effects while I was weaning him. He is a very healthy baby :)

  16. caitlin says

    I wonder if anyone has had a home birth after having taken klonapin during the third trimester? A therapeutic dose? Thank you all for your stories.

  17. Erika says


    I just want to say THANK YOU
    You have no idea the GUILT i am currently living with
    I NEED my Clonazepam I tried going off of it i did cut to .25 from 2 mg a day but I need it to function
    Sometimes Ill take .5 I JUST NEED IT and i know how bad my stress my anxiety and panic attacks can be for my baby

    but i can help but think that i am making myself better but potentially hurting my baby
    I live in fear of losing it the dad doesnt know Im on this medication
    and im so worried all the time

    This did help a lot

    Thank you

  18. Renee says

    This site is a blessing. I’m on other “baby” sites and I’m terrified to talk to strangers about my psych meds for fear of being called selfish. I’ve suffered from panic attacks and severe anxiety since my early twenties. I’m now 34, pregnant with my first, and on fluoxetine, trazodone, and clonazepam- which I only take when necessary. My doctor said that because of the trazodone, she wants me to be followed by a perinatologist. They’ll be able to see any early signs of birth defects possibly caused by the medications. But like you all have said over and over, millions of women have taken medications and given birth to perfectly healthy, exceptional children. I pray every day for a healthy baby and a healthy pregnancy. Best wishes to all of you on your journies.

    • says

      As much as I wish perfect health for everyone, I worry deeply about a cultural trend towards seeking blame for every health problem. Babies get sick. It’s really sad, but sometimes it happens for no reason. The most closely watched fetus may end up becoming a baby born with a “defect” that nobody saw coming. We are strong; we can handle adversity. Sometimes, tragedy strikes with no warning, and sometimes, those who take risks see no adverse consequences. We can’t always find the reasons why, and that’s a really important lesson that I absorbed from my journey that has informed my parenting so much!

  19. Mina says

    I took 150mg of Wellbutrin XL and 1mg of clonazepam everyday with my last pregnancy. My first OBGYN was against the clonazepam and wouldn’t leave me alone about it, so I changed docs. The second one said he wouldn’t recommend it, but had other patients on it as well and they never had a problem. I had a healthy, happy baby at 37 weeks. He is 18 months old now and very smart, he has not missed a milestone and is even early on most! I am 9 weeks pregnant now and on the same medications. This pregnancy has been a lot different and I feel the need to take more than my 1mg of clonazepam. My husband and I have discussed it and decided that if I need that extra pill to keep me from having an anxiety attack then that’s what I have to do. My anxiety is severe, like I want to commit suicide/can’t function when not on my meds. We also have a 10 year old and a 7 year old, so I feel it is best for my entire family if I am mentally stable. I almost wish I could get a scientist to document my pregnancy so that they could put it towards research for making clonazepam safe for pregnancy. Good luck to all you moms out there that are dealing with mental health problems.

    • Stacy says

      I am so happy to have come across this site. I am 8 weeks today and have still been taking my klonopin. I was on 1-1.5mg a day depending. I have tapered down to .5 but today I took two .5mgs. I have been trying to cut it out and went the past two days without any but last night I did not sleep and have had bad anxiety. This pregnancy was not planned and it came at a hard time. My husband lost his job and we were without healthcare! Today, he started his new job so I am at ease but it’s been hard. I have a 6 year old and did not take any medication and my Drs do not want me on klonopin at all. I still have tablets that I have been taking because my anxiety and stress have led to panic attacks again. I can only pray everything will be ok. My first appointment is next Thursday and I’m nervous but ready to see how the little one is growing. I’m trying so hard to cut back but it’s so hard. I’m also taking unisom every night to help with sleep and I have read it’s ok so I am not too concerned.
      Thank you for starting this site. It really helps to see others who have been on this medication at a low dose and have had healthy children.

  20. Mary says

    I am in my first pregnancy. Prior to getting pregnant, I had a prescription for Clonazepam to take as needed for insomnia. I never needed it more than 1-2 times per week, about 0.5 – 1 mg total. Sometimes I went without it for awhile. I never used it for anxiety. I always took supplemental Magnesium.

    Around week 6 of my pregnancy, I noticed I started having frequent insomnia (in my case, it’s caused by hypnic jerks – my whole body jerks awake as I’m falling asleep and this will continue the entire night if I don’t take anything). I started using the Clonazepam more frequently, and the more I had to take it, the more anxiety I started having. The strange thing is that the insomnia causing me to take the medication is causing me to actually have MORE anxiety and for the first time in my life, actual panic attacks worrying about the health of my baby and if I will develop a dependency since I’ve never taken any medication regularly. I’ve only have a few unmedicated nights in the past 6 weeks (Now at 13 weeks). I literally cannot stop jerking myself awake, and it is not under my control. The more time that passes, the worse my fear becomes of dependency and any harm to the baby. I have not really spoken with my midwife about this because the last time I saw her, it had just started and I was convinced it would get better, so I didn’t really mention taking it more often.

    Reading some of the posts has greatly helped me, but I still wish for/desire an unmedicated pregnancy, as I planned on having a completely natural birth. I don’t know anyone else who’s taken this medication because of hypnic jerks in pregnancy – I just think it’s a crazy condition.

    Reading other’s experiences with insomnia in pregnancy has given me the impression that it’s supposed to ease up in the second trimester. Having cleared the second trimester, I am feeling no improvement and absolutely no hope that I will ever be able to stop taking it. I have tried literally everything else in place of medication: Extra Magnesium (made it worse), nearly every natural supplement Whole Foods has to offer, warm baths, milk, relaxation techniques, etc.

    I just needed a place to rant. I am very glad someone started this post. Experience speaks to me more than some FDA warning. My family wants me to see a Neurologist so we can find an ‘answer’. I don’t believe this will result in anything but more money spent and possibly another medication I don’t want to take. I am glad to hear of those of you with no issues having used this medication for the entire pregnancy – even though everyone keeps telling me it will go away soon, or per my mom, that I will have some miraculous healing, I think I need to face the reality that this might not happen.

    Many thanks for posting. Any support appreciated.


    • says

      Hi Mary! I’m glad you feel like this is a safe place to rant. For LOTS of mamas who get it and have been where you are, I really like this private, anonymous forum set up by Postpartum Progress (you don’t need to be postpartum to find support there). I’m in there, sometimes, so I’m not sending you away! Just widening the safety net. Trust your instincts about your own health and wellbeing. Also: FDA warnings are based on the fact that we DON’T know much about medication during pregnancy, because there is no research, so they are very little help, indeed.

  21. Meg says

    Thank you for this post and many comments. I have googled everything possible having to do with klonopin and most people are so against it and make you feel horrible. I’m currently 32 weeks pregnant and my anxiety has become worse and worse… At an all time high and feel like I’m losing all control. I have taken .25mg for many years now but now I’m finding that I need .75-1mg in order to function. My ob has been totally against it from day one but I have chosen to still take it. It’s my body,my baby and my choice. I can’t go through everyday shaking, feeling like I have no control of myself and so low and miserable. Pregnancy is nothing I expected and has been the toughest 32 weeks of my life! Can’t wait not to be pregnant anymore and have my baby. These last 2 months seem to be a lifetime. Thank you for making us mothers more secure with what we need to survive. My baby is growing at a rapid rate and looks perfect on the ultrasound. That’s all I can ask for :)

  22. Emily says

    I know this is an old post but has helped me so much. I have a few chronic health issues and take Klonopin for anxiety and depression because I cannot take SSRI’s due to them making me crazy. One of my chronic issues has me taking an antibiotic, and I am allergic to condoms (sorry for the TMI), so when my husband and I got married we decided we weren’t going to take precautions because I had just gotten through cervical cancer worsened by an IUD so that was ruled out. I have been on 2 mg of the Klonopin for 4 years, and had tried to go off of it back in April and got horrible headaches and was back in bed passing out and dizzy, along with suicidal from the busoae she put me on. Well when we made this decision my shrink immediately wanted me off. I started weaning off and after a month was done, well my first day off I lost consciousness at work and had to stop working. Over The last 2 weeks I have gotten continually worse my headaches are horrendous I am incredibly irritable, almost bipolar with the mood swings, and cannot take any SSRI’s or “more safe medicines for pregnancies” but after a massive fight with my husband over the stupidest thing I got online to try and do my own research, I didn’t want to just trust my shrink. I came across this article and reading everyone’s stories and for lack of a better term “success stories” it has eased both mine and my husbands mind about going back on it. I originally didn’t want to because I didn’t think I could live with myself if I harmed my child, and with a miscarriage already I couldn’t handle that again. Also all I have heard from dr’s is “horror stories”. I am calling my dr first thing in the morning and letting her know my benefits of being on it outweight the risks. I cannot risk ruining my marriage because of a fear of an inconclusive study that has no more results than people who aren’t on it. Which is all I have found aside from this site so THANK YOU. It was a Godsend hug to all you mommas out there and congrats on happy healthy babies!!!!!!!!!!

    • says

      I really wish I could hug you. Because wow, have you been through the ringer, and also for writing this comment, today. I did a lot of work, when I first got serious about this space, to make sure anyone who searched for “Klonopin and pregnancy” would see this blog on the first page, in the Google results. You are going to hear terrible advice, often, telling you to sacrifice yourself for your baby. It’s never going to work. A family can only thrive with balance, and there isn’t a family out there who has managed to avoid risk. At the risk of dispensing medical advice, I offer this opinion: get a new psychiatrist. No responsible doctor tells a patient with a history of suicidal episodes to stop using a drug that works for her, without discussing the health RISKS of NOT taking the medication.

  23. sally says

    I am so grateful to have found this site, I know no one has posted In a while but i thought I would give it a go anyway. I am 33 and 2 & half years ago I got a viral infection which seems to have attacked my nervous system and i have alot of unmanageable neurological and pain symptoms I also have temporal lobe epilepsy and have suffered depression most probably caused by a faulty temporal lobe and have been on and off meds. I have had a miscarriage this year but am now pregnant again and in the middle of a really bad relapse, all my muscles are twitching in spasm and the pain os extreme! I have been prescribed clonezapam but have been so scared to take it, I will still try without it but I feel alot more comfortable having read this. I think the problem is when it comes to psychological issues and pain people seem Drs and people seem to feel it is acceptable to allow these symptoms go untreated because they aren’t life threatening. But mental health in pregnancy is important and I think all of docs lose sight of this. Thanks for putting me at ease!

    • says

      You’re welcome! I make sure this post shows up in search results, even if it is three years old, now. I completely agree that the way women are treated by the medical profession during their pregnancies is way off, especially when it comes to mental health. Everyone wants to ask, first, “What about the fetus?!” as if the mother’s health is less important and can be sacrificed. I understand the impulse to be cautious, but blind fear just doesn’t do anyone any good. I hope you feel better, soon!

    • Toya says

      Hi I have the same problem am 1 month pregnant I was taking vulum now my doc stop me I cannot work due to muscle spasm tightness cannot walk am thinking about taking it again

  24. Marcy says

    I am 19 weeks and weaned off Klonopin as soon as I found out I was pregnant. It was really difficult, but I wanted to avoid benzo’s during my first trimester. Now that I am well into my second, I am feeling an overwhelming amount of tension and irritability in my body especially in tightness in my jaw and throat and chest. Klonopin is the only thing that alleviates this. The symptoms can be unbearable, but the problem is that I’ve built up such a high tolerance to Klonopin that it can take up to 6 mg to work the way that 1 mg used to work years ago. I’ve taken 6 mg this evening for the first time sinc becoming pregnant. Anyone have major concerns with high doses of Klonopin, even if used rarely?

  25. Jennifer says

    I just met with an obstetrician today to discuss the effects clonazepam (1.5 mg a day) and Zoloft (50 mg a day) can have on an unborn child. Even though I’m wanting a baby SO unbelievably bad, I’m terrified of trying because I know there’s no way I can function without my anxiety medications. The OB I spoke with preferred I not be on anything, but said she understood if I had to be. She also suggested I speak with the doctor who prescribes me my anxiety meds to see what he thinks. After speaking with him, he said it was best if my OB decided. I’m stuck! After reading these inspiring stories, I am at ease. I now have faith that when/if I do become pregnant, I can take my medicine knowing that my anxiety attacks would most likely be more harmful to the baby than the medicine!

  26. Jennifer says

    I just found out I am pregnant last week. Prior to finding out, I was taking 2/4 mg a day. I am terrified I already did harm. This site has helped somewhat, but I am still so scared. I told my psychiatrist the week I found out- she told me to see the ob. The ob wanted me off that and the Prozac I take. I have taken Prozac for 19 years – Kolnopin for two. I took 4 pills between visits to the psychiatrist. When I went back, she went and consulted with get colleague while I was there. She came back and said it was a class D drug ( which I had told her the week prior) and that I had to stop that day. I am stuck. My heart is beating out of my chest, I cry, and Ive had some horrible breakdowns. I cried somuch the other night people at work kept asking me questions why my eyes were so puffy, I could barely see out of them. I broke down and took less than half a pill last night and felt calmer, but feeling panicky now!!! I am not sure if I go searching for a doc that will allow me to take something… do I continue to try quitting even though I feel crazy. I am so upset and confuse. Everything I have read States to not quit Klonopin cold turkey, but my said no to tapering. This blog has really been the only thing to make me feel any better or give me any hope, but I still feel so stuck.

    • says

      I am not qualified to give medical advice, but I do know that telling you to just stop taking it, after 2/4mg per day, is bad advice. I urge you to find a care provider who has some experience with anxiety, so that you feel supported, no matter what. “Class D” means, in this case, that we don’t have enough research to know, for sure, because we don’t test drugs on pregnant women. Of course you feel stuck, a person with medical authority told you that you have only one option! You are not a human incubator. There is no such thing as a risk-free pregnancy, so you need someone who will talk to you about the risks of no treatment vs. the risks of Klonopin. I get so angry at ignorant doctors.

      • Jennifer says

        Thank you so much. It makes me so grateful to know that there are other women out there who can relate. I will look into another provider. I appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into this website, it has given me hope!

  27. kristen krob says

    I’m currently trying to conceive and have stalled trying to do so for several years because of my medications. I’ve been on Klonopin since I was 18 (now 25) I used to be on 2 mg but now on a .5 a day. I have always been a worrisome type of person, and have always been anxious but more so since teenage years. I’ve tried getting off but almost commited suicide, and had too much anxiety to function, so just accepted I was gonna take these from now on. at agw 21, I got diagnosed with RA, now take meds for that. although I’ve talked to my doctor about my RA drug during pregnancy (which is perfectly safe at the dose I am on, although most women go into remission during pregnancy and don’t need medicine, YAY) I never knew about my K. i have decided the risks of taking medication outweigh the effects of not, especially at the low dosage I am on. this post has helped so much, you have no idea. thank you so much!!

    • says

      I’m glad that it helps you! I will always feel grateful that, when I told my psychiatrist I’d go off all my meds to have a baby, he said “I worry about your health, without meds.” We get so many signals that we can sacrifice our health for our families; it’s not true. Your family’s health and your health are all so intertwined. The risks to not being on meds are real! Take care of yourself.

    • Steph says

      I recently found out I am pregnant with #2- was diagnosed with ra and fibro after my first. My ra has been great!! No stiffness. My fibro has been worse and I am still trying to wean off my meds for that but the anxiety is the worst it’s ever been. Don’t see the doctor till 3 weeks but I talked to the nurse and she knows what I’m taking and said she was going to talk to the doc- have not heard back yet….
      I’m scares but I’m also going to take the klonapin and fibro meds if need be at the smallest dose possible. The stess isn’t good for the baby or me or my 3 year old and husband.
      I just keep praying my bean is ok…

      • says

        Be kind to yourself, and remember that the lowest dose that *works* may not be the lowest possible prescribed dose. Not taking enough of the meds to help you is sort of the worst of both worlds – you get the guilt AND the anxiety! Might as well be honest with yourself about what works. Here’s hoping that the hormones work against the anxiety and the RA and that you have a comfy and happy 40 weeks, plus a beautiful birth!

  28. Stacy says

    For all the moms out there who posted awhile back…
    How did everything turn out?

    I’m now 12 weeks and down to .25 every evening. I’m going to try for every other day but I get bad anxiety at night.

  29. Miajane says

    Thank you SO much for this blog! It, and many of the ladies’ comments, has tremendously eased my massive stress and anxiety about taking Klonapin during pregnancy.
    I’ve been taking it for 15 years, it’s been the ONLY thing that helps my very SEVERE anxiety/panic disorder.
    My Primary Care Doc told me “don’t even think about getting pregnant while you’re taking Klonapin”.
    I found out I was pregnant 5 weeks ago. Totally unplanned. I was freaking out, thinking, `I’ve got to get off the Klonapin!” I emailed my Doc and she gave me a 12-day plan to taper off.

    Being that my anxiety has sky-rocketed from the hormones, when I lowered my dose just by .25 mg (before pregnancy, some days I was fine just taking .5 mg, I often didn’t need the full 2mg/day I was prescribed), I started getting horrible panic attacks (I couldn’t eat or even drink water) and said, “I cannot do this!”. Then, I was freaking out, thinking, `OMG, my baby’s going to be deformed!’
    I decided I would try to find some success stories about women taking Klonapin while pregnant, and came across this wonderful blog, as well as a few other stories of women who’d had healthy babies while on Klonapin. I cannot tell you, the relief I felt!
    After telling my husband and my mom about this blog and the other stories I’d read, they are 100% supportive of me having a medicated pregnancy.

    I continued taking my medication, despite my Doc’s wishes. I saw her the following week and (I had my mother go in with me, for moral support, I was SO nervous!) told her I did not want to go off the medication. She wasn’t happy about it and told me about the risks, then she said, “Your O.B. may have different feelings about it. But, as a physician I cannot continue to prescribe it to you, I could lose my job. You’d have to see a psychiatrist and sign a release in order to continue taking the Klonapin.” Also, despite the fact I have a really wonderful doctor, I never felt she really grasped the severity of my anxiety.

    I went to my first prenatal appointment, they did the usual testing and an ultrasound (baby looked awesome!) 2 weeks ago, just with nurses, I won’t meet my O.B. until my next appointment in 2 weeks. I also have my first appointment with a psychiatrist the day before.

    I’m really quite nervous about these appointments, since I’ve never met these doctors before and I don’t know how they’ll respond to my situation. Also, by that time my Klonapin will be almost gone, since my Doc had to legally cut me off.
    I’m afraid they’re going to want me to stop the Klonapin and try something else; I’ve tried several other medications and they either didn’t help or made me worse. I certainly don’t want to be going through that during pregnancy, I think that’d be more harmful to the baby.
    I know in my heart that my decision to continue the Klonapin is the right one for me, no doubt about it.
    Does anyone have any advice on how to possibly approach/talk to the psychiatrist and O.B. if they are hesitant about it?

    • Stacy says

      Glad to hear you have found relief in the comments too. I understand what your DR is saying. Mine told me she wouldn’t prescribe them to me either. I actually have enough (since I’m splitting them in 4’s) to cover myself through the pregnancy. My obgyn knows but my dr doesn’t know I’m still taking them. I only go yearly and they would give me a script with 3 refills so I’m good. In my heart I know my baby is going to be ok. I have talked to so many people on the forums who have been ok and their kids are just fine. I’m down to .25 in the evenings. I can’t get completely off because my anxiety and panic starts to rise and it’s an awful feeling. I wish you the best of luck and hope you can get everything worked out for you. Tomorrow I go in to schedule my anatomy ultrasound so I will know everything within the month. I’ll be updating in here once I get the ultrasound.

      • says

        I hope that your ultrasound went beautifully! Here’s an idea for you to consider: does your OB know of a psychiatrist who might be more supportive? My midwives give out the info of the local psychiatrist who supported my medicated pregnancy (long after the meeting this blog post is about, when I was actually pregnant). The reason for a change would be that women with anxiety and depression, before having a baby, carry a greater risk of perinatal mental health issues. It was important to me to have a psychiatrist who would pay careful attention to me during and after my pregnancy, and be able to spot any PMAD (postpartum mood/anxiety disorder) early enough to treat proactively. These are CARE providers! You should feel CARED FOR AND ABOUT! I get so mad at them, when they worry more about covering themselves than caring for moms!

        • Stacy says

          Thanks for the info. Every night I try not to take it but I still take that .25. I do not see a psych, I have before and they all wanted me to try anti depressants. I have tried so many and they made me feel like a zombie! I refuse to take them. The only thing that ever worked was klonopin.

          • says

            It’s simply more common for pregnant women to take anti-depressants than klonopin, during pregnancy, and doctors are slowly absorbing research that indicates a low risk. There is less research on benzodiazepines, like klonopin and ativan, so they are more afraid. What they NEED to do is weight the risks to OUR health, too! It’s not weakness to take medicine for something you need. Asthmatic pregnant women should use inhalers during an attack, even though they pose a risk to a developing fetus/baby, because not being able to breath is more risky! Well, panic causes all kinds of physical responses, limits oxygen getting into the blood (no one can take deep breaths while panicking!) and “fight or flight” direct blood away from the uterus, to your lungs, your legs, things you would need, if you were actually in danger. It’s such basic science, but the unknown and risk of litigation seems to create enough fear in doctors to erase their own common sense.

    • Jennifer says

      My pyschiatrist cut me off completely after 2/4 mg a day for 3 years. It was horrible. I found a doc who specializes in women’s issues ( depression, anxiety and pregnant) and she has been so understanding and helpful. I take anywhere from 1-3 a day depending on the day. I am 22 weeks and hope to be down to one every other day in about a month and 1/2. I had my 5 month ultra sound at 2o weeks and everything was great. All the measurements normal, all ten fingers, toes, organs, spine- all good. There was no sign of a cleft lip and he will dble check for palate on my 28 week sono. I am so grateful that so far everything looks good for my baby and I have been able to stay relatively sabe :)

      • says

        I’m SO GLAD that you found a new doctor! It can be hard to find one who will say they specialize in women. Adolescents and children, sure, but women? Not listed as a speciality! (That’s a pet peeve of mine…) And listen: a cleft lip/palate is not the worst thing that can happen. There would be an excellent plastic surgeon, and your baby would heal. My baby had a tongue tie, and we fed him expressed milk with a syringe, until a pediatrician and IBCLC found it and snipped it. You know what’s MUCH more important to every child? That his mother is able to smile, attend to him, and feel good. They’re little sponges, and they know when something isn’t right with us. They are so resilient, especially physically, when they are brand new. There are so many studies about the lasting impact of untreated mental health problems in parents, on the whole family. For everyone’s sake, for the now and the future, we need to take better care of our mental health, and we need care providers who help us do that! I will just never be able to calmly hear about a provider who dismisses a mother’s health, mental or physical, for the sake of a hypothetical risk to a fetus. As if your health and his health were not completely (literally) connected.

    • says

      I can’t tell you how angry this makes me. From what I understand (I’m certainly no malpractice lawyer) the only legal prohibition against prescribing klonopin would be if it were known to cause specific and common harm. I’ve never seen a study indicating that there’s any definite harm. In fact, there’s a big risk to just cutting you off! I know women whose OBs have suggested that they smoke while pregnant, but smoke as little as possible, because: WITHDRAWAL can cause miscarriage. The rates of THAT happening are much higher than the slightly higher indication that may or may not exist with klonopin. Approach a hesitant psychiatrist or OB with questions, and this is what I teach in HypnoBirthing about medical intervention during pregnancy: Why? why not? What are the risks of staying on? What are the risks of coming off? It helps if you know a little about this, yourself. “My understanding is that withdrawal is really dangerous – can you tell me why you’re worried more about the risk with klonopin than without?” Ask about your mental health, and its impact on the developing baby. What if you end up having constant panic attacks? What about the natural but dangerous cortisol your body will produce? Babies who are born to moms with *extreme* stress have a hard time–we risk something chemically similar when we’re just left to our own devices with brain chemistry that pumps out panic-inducing cortisol for no apparent reason, and told to feel guilty about that.

  30. Laura says

    Thank you for your blog and to those who have commented. I am currently 6 weeks pregnant. I have had a sleep disorder for about 3 years. I would take clonazepam occasionally, but I thought I would be okay with alternative options once I was pregnant. Unfortunately, my symptoms got much worse after I became pregnant. One doctor advised me not to take any sleep medication during pregnancy…this advice got me to a very bad place. I began having hypnic limb jerks to the point that I was completely unable to fall asleep on my own (I would jerk back awake every time I would start to fall asleep). I began taking Ambien which seemed to worsen the limb jerks, which my doctor confirmed was likely the case. I then tried Lunesta which gives my 4-6 hours of sleep but makes me feel terrible the next day. I also tried Flexeril which had no effect. Gabapentin (category C) seemed like an option so I called my OB and she said no. I had a sleep study a couple nights ago and the results confirmed what I already knew–hypnic limb jerks. The recommendation was to try behavioral strategies since I am pregnant. I am so far past the point of no return that the idea of behavioral strategies being the answer seemed completely ridiculous (not to mention I have been using behavioral strategies for insomnia for several years). I felt completely stuck with only 2 terrible options: 1. don’t sleep at all knowing that sleep deprivation worsens (causes) the limb jerks (plus I can not live 8 more months without sleeping) or 2. Take Ambien or Lunesta since I no longer have the ability to fall asleep on my own and worsen the limb jerks in the process.

    These are not viable options for me, so I began doing research on clonazepam. I was surprised to find that the most recent research actually shows that clonazepam is not as dangerous as it was once thought to be:

    “Data regarding the use of benzodiazepines (such as Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan) during pregnancy is somewhat controversial. Early reports suggested that there may be an increased risk of cleft lip and palate associated with first trimester exposure to these medications, estimating the risk to be about 0.7%; however, more recent studies have suggested that the risk may be even lower.”

    “Prenatal exposure to benzodiazepines may increase the risk of cleft lip and cleft palate, although the studies have been inconsistent on this point. The absolute increase in risk is small, with about seven babies born with cleft lip or palate out of every 10,000 exposed to benzodiazepines in the womb, compared with six babies out of 10,000 without prenatal exposure.

    There is also a great fact sheet about benzodiazepine use during pregnancy.

    I can live with a .7% risk, particularly when the risk in the general population is .6%. I started taking clonazepam last night and am starting to feeling human again. Once the hypnic jerks stop (I’m guessing it will take a few days), I plan to take it on an as needed basis.

    My main concern now is that I will not be able to find a doctor to prescribe a refill for me. I understand that doctors are concerned about any risk to the fetus but I strongly feel that my own health needs to be taken into greater consideration.

    Reading the comments of other readers has been very helpful. It is nice to know that I am not the only person out there who is facing this dilemma.

    • says

      These are FANTASTIC resources! I adore the people at Mother To Baby, especially. I called to offer to be in any studies they might be conducting; none in my area at the time. But talking to them on the phone was nice! They’re sweet. I want to add, as I say in other replies to comments: it’s not just about the risks of taking a medication. There’s also the risk that we incur when we are UNMEDICATED! In an earlier post, I think I talked about going to see my psychiatrist, and telling him that hey! I was going to stop taking all meds so I could have a baby! yay! let’s make a plan! I thought he was going to PASS OUT, he was so scared of that idea. To his credit, he was very calm, and said that we needed help weighing the risks of going off the meds and even the benefits to staying on them. That’s where the specialist in this post came in.

      Whether you were 6 weeks or 36, I would say the same thing, as a childbirth educator (I now teach HypnoBirthing): GET A NEW OB. Not only are you at a higher risk for perinatal mental health issues, but you also need an OB who will actually do research! I wrote this over THREE YEARS AGO. And the doctor I’m talking about just typed a few search words into a medical database about medications and pregnancy and came out with all the studies for us to read together. My OB, then midwives, when I actually did become pregnant, were all willing and eager to listen. If your OB is this unsupportive and bad at listening to you, do you really want this person having so much power during your birth? That’s an important question. I’m not going to email you to find out if you switched, but I have taught enough classes now to know that a supportive provider can make ALL the difference between a lovely, peaceful birth, or a traumatic experience. They’re overworked, and the profession is a mess, requiring doctors to preside over far too many births. But there are still midwives and obstetricians who can see the person behind the pregnancy!

  31. shab says

    I am having panic attacks and I am pregnant, I am using the klonopin occasionally and my new ob does not want me to. Can you please email me Dr P’s information? I am so worried because the OB and psych does not want to prescribe me anything and my anxiety and depression are getting really bad. I was prescribed the klonopin before and I just need a doctor who will ok the occasional use. I live in Queens and I am willing to go to Manhattan or anywhere in Queens if anyone can suggest an OB. I am feeling really stressed over this because I have agoraphobia and the OB does not understand how hard getting to the hospital will be for me. Thank you

    • Alice says

      I cannot believe doctors are just pulling meds from pregnant women. This is so wrong and horrible. Your hormones are spiked, so your panic will be worse. I would say to find a different ob and go to a primary care physician as well. If it gets really bad, go to the ER. They cannot force you to stop taking psychiatric medication. It is unethical and illegal! It can lead to EXTREME and horrifying results if not dealt with properly. I don’t live in the area, but I would tell you to call a nursing hotline and go to a walk in clinic as soon as you can. I am not trying to traumatize you, but this is outrageous and pisses me off! I am so sorry for what you are going through and hope that you get it solved soon.

      Bless You!!

  32. Stacy says

    I just thought I should post that my 20 week anatomy scan went great! No signs of heart, birth defects or problems at all. I was taking 1mg of klonopin in the beginning (a day) then weaned to .25! I just quit taking it last week at the end of 18 weeks. I knew I was down a low dose and wanted to get off just incase. I will still take .25 of i feel like I need it for an emergency but I am not taking it daily anymore. Still, I took it the whole time the baby was developing and everything is ok and measuring on schedule!
    I just wanted you all to hear how my scan went. In my heart I knew everything was ok but of course I still worried. Hope this puts some of you at ease. I’ll keep you all updated as my pregnancy continues.

    • says

      I’m glad to hear that everything went well! Don’t be too hard on yourself. Theory goes that the second trimester is the safest for the klonopin, and then taking less is better as birth approaches, simply because it reduces the chances of any withdrawal symptoms. Stay positive! You are taking great care of you and your baby, and you can’t do one without the other!

  33. Alice says

    I made the mistake of googling EVERYTHING on klonopin and pregnancy and you really need to consider that a lot of the people coming off of it abruptly say that they are fine and, put simply, do not need it like some of us. I have horrible anxiety and would not be able to make it through my pregnancy without the medication that I have been on for 10 years. There has to be a reason why it is the one medicine I cannot get off of: because I need it (for now). There are NO studies that show any connection to malformations with klonopin and babies.

    I think what is happening is that it is a very cheap drug and doctors are trying to push, new, more expensive drugs. I am almost 7 months and my little girl is perfectly healthy so far (knock on wood). I have been to a wonderful doctor who has stated that the stress from withdrawal would be worse than taking it. I know I will deal with a child that has withdrawal symptoms, but it will be different than adults (I hope), because babies have no frame of reference. I hate that she has to go through this, but unfortunately to get her here (into the world), it is what I have to do! Don’t feel guilty for knowing what you need! I would love to be unmedicated, as it is a burden on me, but for now, I am okay with me :)

    Light and Love

    • says

      You may actually NOT see withdrawal symptoms in your newborn! You and I feel the symptoms of adults having taken the meds for a decade. My son showed a few signs that may have been withdrawal but show up often enough that no one could tell me: this was caused my your meds. NONE of it. The issue that actually had an impact on his early days was a hereditary “tongue tie” – nothing to do with meds or my mental health.

  34. Jasmine Castro says

    Hi everyone,
    I’m so blessed I have found this website! I have tried getting off my meds Prozac 10mg and klon.25 or .50 like 7 times and every time I have tried as been horrific. Tears are falling down. I want to be a mom so bad but I have so much fear of being a bad mother and staying on. I don’t want nothing bad to happen to my children. I would not be able to forgive myself! I live here in Southern California do you guys know any doctors that will be open to stay on. Thank God I have a super supportive husband that wants me to stay on. He knows I need to be well for our baby to be well.
    Thank you soooo much!

  35. Jennifer says

    Wow, God bless you for this site!! I have severe PPA, anxiety, overwhelmed, constant obsessive fears something will happen to my beautiful baby. I feel like a criminal for taking a .25mg klonopin once or twice a week, convinced it will poison him through my milk. My baby is almost 7 months old now. After reading this I plan on treating myself to .5mg daily for a few days (and treating my husband to a woman who is not sobbing and wildly mood swinging). :) thank you for this.

    • Jennifer says

      Jennifer, I loved your last sentence about treating your husband to a wife that isn’t “sobbing and wildly mood swinging”!! I recently tried lowering my dose of Clonzepam from .25mg to half of that (cutting my pill into quarters), since we’re trying to conceive. Needless to say, I’ve been an absolute mess and decided to go back to my original dosage. I’m pretty sure he’s happy to have me back!! God Bless this blog!! So encouraging :)

  36. KC says

    Oh my heavens! I just fell into the peaceful sleep reading just half of this blog so far. My first child (now 6)I was only 19 and did EVERY THING right. I wouldn’t even take anything for a cold or terrible sinus infection. The worst thing I did once was dye my hair. Well doing everything right I have PTSD from a horrid childhood and foster care. Pregnancy hormones made me so depressed, stressed, suicidal at times…. not to mention my inlaws (including husband’s 3 siblings ) all begging me to have an abortion and everyone telling me my life was over ….. my MIL finally stopped saying “well if you had listened and gotten an abortion” when my son was about 4.
    So all of this and “doing everything right” caused my blood pressure to sky Rockett and lead to preeclapsia and HELLP syndrome…… my son was 2 months early, I found out I was going to have him 5 mins before they came in with a razor to shave for surgery, and told me his lungs were not developed enough so he was not going to be able to breath so they were sending him to another hospital ….. It was HORRIFIC . Then I would see my son for 2 days… didn’t even get to touch him…. but there is a miracle here, he came out crying and breathing ! (I named him Abel which happens to mean breath) So he stayed in the same hospital. However his lungs were underdeveloped and the first three years were hell on earth, of it wasn’t bronchitis it was pneumonia. He is healthy now at six and caught up completely. And a very calm and sweet child. To add to the crazyness I got pregnant again before my son’s due date even went by, because of his complications and the fact my c-section reopened around the same time, I had to have a D and C, my husband never forgave me and I’ve never forgave me and we’ve tried for a baby ever since.

    Well here comes my problem, a couple years ago I discovered kolinapin, oh how miraculous after all the different things they tried since I was only 13 and over medicated by my foster parents who then just a year ago called DC FS on me because of my medication use. So my husband and I hide that I use it now. But after 5 years IM PREGNANT AND SO HAPPY. Or I want to be…. but all I can think is if I did everything so right last time, what’s going to happen if I have a baby on kolinapin? I Google all the horrible side effects and immediately went cold turkey….. holy bad idea! Day 3 or 4 I thought I was going to die, then read a lot of info about this causing a possible miscarriage and ran and took a a pill immediately. But I’ve been gut wrenched with guilt and the fear of another constantly ill child or deformed or permanently disabled. Not to on mention I’m in college full time, we just bought our first home we can’t even lI’ve in yet because it need 4 times the repairs estimated (mold whole walls knocked out all we are doing alone) and my grandfather just had a stroke and his case manager wants me to take him in (and I want to but dear lord how much more can a person who can barely function on bad anxiety days take) and the whole while I’ve been not taking my meds until about twom s as go by and I can’t stand it anymore then feel relieved but like I’m killing my baby and I just cry and hate myself for each one I take. (My normal dose was 2mg 3xs a day) like i said, it’s high. But I’m going to take one, rest easy, and be 100% honest at my first
    prenatal visit. Sorry for the length but I’m beginning to wonder had I been taking kolinapin my first pregnancy would my BP have never done that? Also to make a point here to every woman, you can do everything “right”and by the book and still have it all go terribly wrong.

    Just thank you, thank you for being a bright light in my storm. I just want to be so happy and celebrate but not taking my meds hardly is robbing me of that. I don’t want the joy of a wanted baby ripped from me again as everyone did to me as a young mother. Just thank you all!

    • Anne-Marie says

      You are not alone! There are lots of us out here with little lights, and you can always find someone who has been in the spot you’re standing. I found lots of bright lights in the community. I highly recommend the blog and the nonprofit’s many resources!

  37. Michelle says

    Thank God for this blog. I have been stressing since the day I found out I was pregnant. I’ve been on Klonipon and Subutex for years. I just started Subutex as I was on Suboxone for 5yrs before I found out I was pregnant Sunday 8/2/2015. Monday I was switched to 8mg of Subutex (opiate for those who were once addicted) Klonipon has been 2mg for 2yrs. I haven’t been able to sleep. I think I can breathe better reading all of these beautiful posts. I have severe anxiety, and my Dr. wants me to taper off the Klonipon now. I’m not sure what will happen, but, it scares me. I want my baby to be healthy, as all of us mother’s expecting on medication do. My OB/GYN wants me to find a psychiatrist to work with me as well as the Dr. who has been prescribing me Suboxone and Klonipon for years. Now, all of a sudden she doesn’t want to be ‘responsible’ for prescribing me this medication while pregnant.

    • Anne-Marie says

      It’s not uncommon, but they really need to tell you this as soon as they know you’re trying to get pregnant. My psychiatrist wasn’t comfortable, so he got me a REFERRAL! It’s beyond unhelpful, even harmful, to just say “no, go find someone else,” without HELPING YOU FIND THAT OTHER DOCTOR. I have rage about this, for every woman who is left with nothing but a shrug and a feeling that she has been judged harshly. And maybe a phone number. One. Maybe. Check out the list of providers at! Maybe your area is on there.

  38. MM says

    Thank you for this post. I am currently 15 weeks pregnant with a long awaited 2 child. Unfortunately this pregnancy, which I was so looking forward to, is a nightmare. I have had health anxiety for a number of years and my pregnancy exacerbated the problem. I worry constantly, obsessively something being wrong with me or the baby. I have not had a good day so far. Benzodiazepines helped before my pregnancy but my psychiatrist is not keen on my taking anything. However seeing how I deteriorated he gave me Klonopin 0.5 to take when I feel it is absolutely necessary. I have so far taken it on 3-4 occasions. Today I was supposed to call my obstetrician and ask about the results of the test for chromosomal abnormalities (one of my big worries). Every time I took the phone I felt I was going to get a heart attack – my heart was banging in my chest, my blood pressure rose etc. After a few attempts I felt I was going into a full blown panic attack so I took klonopin. It calmed me down after a while and I was able to make the call (results not in). Within a few hours I was getting another anxiety attack and was bawling my eyes because I felt guilty and scared about taking Klonopin again. I wanted this baby so much and now I feel I am destroying him. I am at the end of my rope. Your post calmed me down a bit. I am in New York and cannot afford these fancy perinatal psychiatrist because of their fancy rates. Unfortunately a 1000$ for a consultation is not something I can currently afford.
    I commend you for making the right choices and not going off any of your meds. I figured I could tough it out for 9 months and I am a wreck by 15 weeks.

  39. Sonja f says

    I have been on Paxil and clonazepam now for 14 years. I have extremely bad anxiety. I am 6 weeks pregnant, I just found out 1 week ago. I was shocked and excited but that was soon overshadowed by my fears of my medications, as over the years I have discussed future baby plans with multiple Dr’s and they have all told me I would have to switch my medication or try to wean off it for a pregnancy . Since I am on such a low dose of the Paxil my Dr said it will be OK to take it through the pregnancy . But the clonazepam on the other hand , I would have to stop taking right away . I has one of the worst anxiety attacks stemming from that a few nights ago . I couldnt breath, my heart was racing , I was sweating like crazy ,my mind was going crazy . How will I deal with these withdrawals? Am I going to have a horrible panic attack like this for the next 8 months ? What if I hurt my baby from all this medication? Am I strong enough to handle this pregnancy ? I talked to my Dr again I told her about my anxiety attack and she said it’s better I slowly wean off it than have such horrible stress in my body . But I am still nervous because I don’t know how hard that’ll be and clonazpam is the only thing that really helps my attacks , picturing myself with my big belly moths down the road having a horrible attack with no option scares the crap out of me . But reading this did give me some peace of mind me seeing other anxiety sufferers who have LIVED it and don’t have these scary horror stories about the medications through their pregnancies . It is so nice to know I’m not alone and I’m not some selfish jerk for wanting to treat my own anxiety while I carry my child

  40. Jennifer says

    I just wanted to give a quick update for all those mommies who worried as much as I did. I had my son last week and he is a healthy, sweet baby. He scored 9 on the Apgar test and was 6lbs 10.5 ozs. I took 10 mg of Prozac and between 1 and 3 mg of Klonopin during my entire pregnancy. During the last week, I only took .5 for 5 days and the baby showed no signs of withdrawal. This site and all the comments gave me some comfort over the course of my pregnancy, I hope my story will help some of you :)

    • Abby says

      Thank you so much. I just found out I’m pregnant–13 weeks. I’m 41 and have been on 1_2 MG of klonipin at bedtime for several years, and 200mg lamictal per day. It is already enough to worry about my age – this is unexpected miracle baby, so the upcoming genetic testing terrifies me. I just found out Friday so I’m desperate to get into the doctor asap. Your post and all of these help.

  41. Jessica says

    Oh my gosh! I could just cry tears of joy right now! I’m 12 weeks and on my second pregnancy and am taking Zoloft and Klonopin (.5 mg as needed). I feel like I’m going to die most days because my anxiety level is so high and I don’t want to take my Klonopin. I took Klonopin when I needed to leave my bed and/or home with my first and now with this one but I feel like I need to take it more often. It’s been an internal battle for weeks. I also suffer from emetophobia so having suffered morning sickness has just amplified everything. I’m so happy to have come across this site and read all of these various experiences. Although I’ve been through it once, I can’t help but worry about the effects on my baby this time around. You know, I tested fate before and now I’m pushing my luck. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your positive experiences!!!!!

  42. Senka says

    So glad to have come across this site. Ann-Marrie, is there any way you can email me i would love to talk to you more about your choices – i am 12 weeks pregnant and have to have a medicated pregnancy.

  43. Stacy says

    I thought I would update. I took klonopin .5 the first 2 months of pregnancy then went down to .25 until 18 weeks. I ended up quitting and taking .25 as needed the rest of pregnancy (which was around once a month). I was not on any other medication.
    My daughter was born via “planned” csection at 39 weeks. She was 7lb 5oz. She passed all her hospital tests and is perfect as can be. She is now 6 weeks today and everything has been wonderful!
    I hope that gives some of you piece of mind.

  44. Me82 says

    Man….I just wanted to see if taking ONE HALF of a .05, ONE time to help me sleep at 17 weeks pregnant would be thought to possibly do any harm. I guess that would be a probably not…it just would have been nice if searching the question didn’t automatically sent me to a page discussing planning a “medicated pregnancy”, which I am obviously not doing…but guess a little reading never hurt anyone though, right? Lol

    • Jennifer says

      What a negative comment. You didn’t have to read our stories. We are real women with real struggles trying to lift one another up by sharing our experience, strength and hope. I’m glad that your story only requires a one time, extremely low dose- lucky you. LOL, really???did you really write that- because I can assure you, this has not been a laughing matter for the women posting or here. Have some compassion.

  45. says

    I usually don’t take much of anything the second two weeks of the month but we were in the process of a move and then my 13 month old got sick and between the two things he didn’t sleep at ALL for 2 weeks. I took Klonopin .25 every night to sleep for those 2 weeks, once .5 to fall back asleep between the every half hour wake ups to nurse. THEN I TESTED PREGNANT. Feeling so horrible and anxious and it helped to read what you wrote about Klonopin. I am not taking anything else. So little 4 day old life growing inside me should be okay??? (Or at least, not damaged by my klonopin??) I am allergic to the antihistamines in benadryl and unisom so can’t take the “safe” sleep aids for pregnancy. I know OB will be beyond furious I took Klonopin for those 2 weeks. Thanks for any encouragement.

  46. Rachel says

    I was so nervous about my pregnancy because I took clonazepam while I am pregnant… I took 2/4 eventhough I know I am pregnant already .. and I am not yet consulting my psychiatrist that time. I went to my psychiatrist and ask if its ok that I took clonazepam? he said that do not worry Or panic if u took it… its really ok… I’m giving clonazepam or I mean he prescribing clonazepam to pregnants who suffers anxiety…just like me… And he said that I can take it the whole ,9 months… because it doesnt have really side effects… Ooooh what A relief!!!! i am now 10 weeks preg. My psychiatrist said u dont need to suffer that is the bad thing really… for me and baby…. if I am always anxious.. pounding heart… irritable…having hard time to sleep….etc.. Thank u Lord there is an answer to our difficulties… I hope there is no really bad effects . As I read some stories here.. my worries about taking it went out. Thank u sisses.

  47. iana says

    Hi! I posted a little over a year ago when I found out I was pregnant and taking Klonopin for severe anxiety.
    I wanted to post an update to help other women have peace of mind.
    I found a psychiatrist who understood I needed to stay on the Klonopin (and nothing extra) during pregnancy. My OB was a little nervous about it at first, but after hearing me out she said she felt it was “the lesser of the two evils”.
    So, now, I have a very healthy, very smart, precious 7 month old baby boy!
    Absolutely ZERO complications for me or baby during or after pregnancy (from Klonopin anyway, the birth was just difficult because baby was big and healthy, and I’m small, lol!).
    At my last trimester I had to do weekly stress tests because of the meds (they monitor baby’s heart rate, movement, and do an ultrasound to monitor growth, it can take a long time but it’s not painful!).
    They kept us a little longer in the hospital after birth, because baby was “sleepy”, but I’ve seen many, many newborns and he was no sleepier than any other (they were just being cautious).
    I just want to encourage women that are taking Klonopin that get pregnant that you don’t need to be scared. If you feel you can get through pregnancy without meds, do it. If you know you can’t get through it unmedicated, find a psychiatrist who will help you. I read in a (very good) pregnancy book, that even most pregnancies of women abusing illegal narcotics result in a perfectly healthy baby (not that it’s OK, mind you).
    Don’t let naysayers and people that don’t understand your condition make you feel guilty, don’t let them pressure you into abortion (that’s happened to me, worst decision ever!), don’t let them convince you that you’re harming your baby!
    If I had stopped taking Klonopin during pregnancy, I guarantee you I would have miscarried from being so sick (that’s what happened to my first pregnancy).
    I took Klonopin for my whole pregnancy. I actually took more in the beginning (not very low doses, either), and that’s when their most concerned about it.

    • Lily says

      I found out last week I’m pregnant. I’ve been taking klonopin for anxiety for about 10 yrs. I called my psychiatrist when I found out and she told me to try to lower my doses each two weeks but I will see her in 3 weeks. I’m curious what dose you were taking? Thank you! And thank you for sharing :)

      • Anne-Marie says

        Hi Lily,
        My dosage while pregnant will not be helpful. Everyone is different. I do believe that it is vital to know that tapering from any dose of clonazepam in a short period of time often causes extremely painful side effects. Stopping the medication immediately is such a shock to the body that it can cause miscarriage. My current doctor says that she would not recommend that anyone taper off this type of medication in less than a six month period, at the minimum. I now know that trying to get off the meds too quickly caused me a lot of pain. I hope your doctor is willing to have an honest conversation with you about what withdrawal syndrome might feel like, and what the potential side effects might be of stopping the medication after 10 years, in a short time period, both for you and any potential effect on a developing fetus. There are risks to taking meds and risks to NOT taking meds as well.

        • Lisa Elliott says

          Thank u so very much for your blog! I only took clonazepam maybe 4 times my last pregnancy, but this pregnancy the anxiety and panic was so unmanageable I couldn’t eat or get my 6 year old to school. I’m taking only .25 up to 3 times a week and some weeks not at all. Every site makes me feel like I don’t live my baby enough if I take the medication, but I won’t be able to care for my unborn child or 6 year old effectively if I can’t get off the floor. So incredibly relieving to hear I’m not a monster and I’m not alone. Praying for a healthy baby and just doing the best I can every day. Thank you for all the support, and your stories ladies!💕

        • Lisa Elliott says

          Thank u so very much for your blog! I only took clonazepam maybe 4 times my last pregnancy, but this pregnancy the anxiety and panic was so unmanageable I couldn’t eat or get my 6 year old to school. I’m taking only .25 up to 3 times a week and some weeks not at all. Every site makes me feel like I don’t love my baby enough if I take the medication, but I won’t be able to care for my unborn child or 6 year old effectively if I can’t get off the floor. So incredibly relieving to hear I’m not a monster and I’m not alone. Praying for a healthy baby and just doing the best I can every day. Thank you for all the support, and your stories ladies!💕


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