What To Know About Medicines During Pregnancy

What To Know About Medicines During Pregnancy
20 Apr 2022
8 mins
Table Of Content
What To Know About Medicines During Pregnancy

    In this modern world, many women are aware of talking about every doubt regarding pregnancy during the first prenatal appointment itself. Even if you miss some things to talk or inform, your attending physician will discuss everything, starting from what you can eat to how you can prepare yourself for labor. But taking some medicines during early stages of pregnancy  may cause birth defects. Also, you may take some over-the-counter or herbal medicines during pregnancy, thinking that they may not harm you. 


    This content would highlight the importance of getting knowledge on the use of medicines during pregnancy.


    What Should I Know About Medicine Use In Pregnancy?


    Around half of the pregnant women take at least one prescription medicine. Some medicines are considered safe, while some other medications can cause potential harm to the unborn baby and mother. 


    Some of you are probably thinking, “I have a medical condition, and I need to take medication? what do I do?”. A pregnant woman with pre-existing conditions such as thyroid, diabetes, blood pressure, asthma, etc., must have been taking some medications to keep the condition under control. Without treatment, the medical condition can worsen and can cause slow growth of the baby or complications to her pregnancy and baby. 


    In such cases, your doctor may want you to switch to another similar medication that is considered safer to take during pregnancy. You need to take the prescribed pregnancy medications to avoid complications. 


    Medications That Need To Be Avoided During Pregnancy 


    There are numerous medications that may increase the chance of birth defects or other complications, including:

    • Isotretinoin, an acne medication that is highly likely to cause birth defects.
    • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors such as lisinopril and benazepril. They are used to treat high blood pressure.
    • Warfarin, a blood-thinning medication
    • Paroxetine is used to treat depression and other conditions.
    • Hormone diethylstilbestrol (DES)
    • Lithium, used in the treatment of bipolar
    • Some antibiotics such as tetracycline and doxycycline
    • Some seizure medications such as valproic acid
    • Diazepam, alprazolam and a few other medications used in the anxiety treatment


    This is not an entire list. The decision to stop, continue, start, or change medication before or during pregnancy must be made together with your physician.


    Is it safe for me to take medications before I get pregnant?


    I took a medication before I knew I was pregnant. What shall I do?


    Indeed, some medications can cause harm very early in pregnancy, and it is hard to know accurately when you will become pregnant. The best solution to avoid these concerns is before you begin trying to get pregnant, schedule a meeting with your physician to discuss medications that you take. Your doctor may create a new treatment plan for your health condition so you can have a healthy pregnancy.


    If you took medications before you knew you were pregnant, you have to discuss with the gynecologist about any concerns you have. The potential for harm depends on a range of factors including, type of drug, how it is taken, dose of the drug, how often it is taken, gestational age of the baby, and maternal health and diet.


    Don’t Assume Anything Is Safe 


    Because you buy without a prescription, don’t think OTC medications are safe. Also, most herbal supplements and preparations have not been proven to be safe during pregnancy. Some of the non-prescription medicines that can increase the chance of birth defects are bismuth subsalicylate (treats stomach problems), phenylephrine (decongestant), and guaifenesin (cold and cough medicine).

    What Are All The Things I Can Do To Ensure The Safe Use Of Medicines During Pregnancy?


    The first thing you should do is you have to give your health care professional a list of all medicines you take or have recently taken, including prescription and OTC medications, complementary therapies (like herbal medicines), nutritional supplements, and illegal drugs. 


    If you have a cold, you may be thinking of taking the leftover cough syrup that your physician has prescribed in the past. The one golden rule you have to follow during pregnancy is that “do not take any medication without consulting the doctor”


    Try to manage minor health problems with non-drug options. For example, avoiding smells or foods that trigger nausea could help if you feel nauseated. Salt-water sprays may help relieve nasal congestion. Physicians generally recommend women to avoid taking medicines during pregnancy, if possible, particularly during the first three months.


    Whenever you meet a physician for the first time for any medical condition during pregnancy, be sure to inform them that you are pregnant.


    Caffeine is present in coffee, cola drinks, and tea. Heavy use (more than 7 cups of coffee per day) may be linked with an increased risk of low birth weight. Do not drink more than 2 cups of instant coffee or 4 cups of medium strength tea per day.


    Using the internet for getting health information is very common nowadays. A 2015 study has found that content in current YouTube videos doesn’t accurately discuss the safety of specific medications used during pregnancy. Nothing matches a doctor’s knowledge, and never make any decisions about medicines during pregnancy without consulting your doctor first.


    The last but the best and basic advice for pregnant women is, whether it is a prescription medicine or a vitamin supplement, take them exactly as prescribed by your health care professional and without fail to have a healthy pregnancy.

    Plan Ahead:


    If you are planning to get pregnant, talk with your doctor. He/ she may create a plan with changes in lifestyle and medicines if you take them. You may be asked to take 400 micrograms of folic acid. Having enough folic acid in a woman’s body at least one month and during pregnancy can help prevent the chance of a baby having major birth defects of the spine and brain. Make sure you are free of alcohol, smoke and stress. Seek counseling if you need help to stop smoking or drinking alcohol. 

    Written by
    GuruvigneshwariContent Writer
    AboutM.Pharmacy (Pharmacognosy)