When a women becomes pregnant, she needs to care for herself, but she needs to care and provide for her unborn child as well. If you are pregnant, you must remember that the over-the-counter (OTC) medications, vitamin supplements and prescription drugs you may have been able to safely consume prior to your pregnancy, may not be safe for you and your baby now.
Certain types of medications and prescription drugs taken during pregnancy can cause birth defects such as heart deformities, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, neural tube defects, brain damage, as well as various other mental and developmental issues.
Medications Pregnant Women Need to Avoid
Many women are well aware that morning sickness, headaches, heartburn and muscle aches are all common parts of the pregnancy process. What some women may not realize is the risks over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs can have on their unborn child. Not all OTC meds are safe for use during pregnancy.
In fact, the Office on Women’s Health states that due to the potential risks to the fetus, most drugs have never been tested for safety on pregnant women. It is for this reason doctors will generally inquire as to whether or not you could be pregnant, before prescribing drugs or advising you on the OTC medications you can take.
The following are some of the medications pregnant women should avoid:
- Excedrin Migraine
- Pepto Bismol
- Dimetapp Cold and Allergy
- Excedrin Extra Strength and Excedrin Migraine
- Castor Oil
- Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Formula
- Advil Allergy & Congestion Relief
- Sudafed 12 Hour
- Tobacco (including Nicorette gum, Nicoderm CQ patches, etc.)
- Products containing pseudo-ephedrine
If you become ill while pregnant, seek medical advice from your healthcare provider and be sure to read the labels on any products you plan to take. Medications intended to treat multiple symptoms should be avoided during pregnancy. These types of meds often contain ingredients (alcohol, caffeine, etc.) that are not safe for your unborn child. Most symptoms can be treated with safer alternatives.
For a more information, we recommend you visit MotherToBaby.org, a nonprofit organization committed to “providing evidence-based information to mothers, health care professionals, and the general public about medications and other exposures during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.”
Seek Medical Advice Before Using Medications During Pregnancy
Any time a woman falls ill, suffers an allergic reaction or requires medical treatment during the course of her pregnancy, it is important she seek medical advice before using medications. Even the mildest types of OTC medications can cause complications with a pregnancy.
As your doctor has a complete knowledge of your medical history and should be able to tell how your pregnancy is progressing, he or she will be able to help you determine the type of medication or non drug-related treatment you can use. Discussing your options with your doctor ahead of time will help you to make sure the benefits to your health will outweigh the potential risk to your unborn child.