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Doctors usually tell women to avoid medicines during pregnancy, if possible, especially during the first 3 months. That is when a baby's organs form. But sometimes you have to take medicine to treat a health problem, such as high blood pressure or asthma.
So first your doctor or midwife will look at the risk. Is the risk of taking a medicine higher than the risk of not treating your illness? If you or your baby would face worse problems without treatment, then your doctor or midwife will prescribe medicine or recommend an over-the-counter one. He or she will also look at which medicine to give you. For example, some antibiotics are safe for pregnant women. And some are not.
It can be hard to know if a medicine is safe for your baby. Most medicines are not studied in pregnant women. That's because researchers worry about how the medicines might affect the baby. But some medicines have been taken for so long by so many women that doctors have a good idea of how safe they are. Talk to your doctor or midwife before you take any medicines.
In general, doctors say it is usually safe to take:
If you are planning a pregnancy, talk to your doctor or midwife about any medicines you take, even over-the-counter ones. Some of them may be safe to take while you're pregnant. But others may not be safe. Your doctor or midwife may have you stop taking a medicine or may switch you to another one. Some medicines that aren't safe in the first trimester may be safe to use later in the pregnancy.
Some medicines are known to increase the chance of birth defects or other problems. But sometimes there's more risk for the mother and her baby if she stops taking a medicine (such as one that controls seizures) than if she keeps taking it. Talk to your doctor or midwife about any medicines you take if you are thinking about having a baby or if you are pregnant.
Some of the over-the-counter medicines that increase the chances of birth defects are:
Some of the prescription medicines that increase the chances of birth defects are:
Talk to your doctor or midwife about any herbal supplements that you take. Don't take any vitamins or herbal or other supplements unless you talk with your doctor or midwife first.
Women who are trying to get pregnant and those who are pregnant should take a multivitamin that has folic acid. Folic acid is most important before and in the first few weeks of pregnancy, because it prevents some birth defects. You can get folic acid in an over-the-counter multivitamin. Or you might get it in a multivitamin that your doctor or midwife prescribes. Talk to your doctor or midwife about which type of vitamin you should take. In some cases, doctors and midwives prescribe extra iron or extra folic acid.
Other Works Consulted
Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). Teratology and medications that affect the fetus. In Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 312-333. New York: McGraw-Hill.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2015). FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA has reviewed possible risks of pain medicine use during pregnancy. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm429117.htm. Accessed March 24, 2015.
Yankowitz J (2008). Drugs in pregnancy. In RS Gibbs et al., eds., Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp. 122-151. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerSarah A. Marshall, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineElizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology
Current as ofNovember 21, 2017
Current as of:
November 21, 2017
Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology
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