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Medication During Pregnancy: What’s Safe And What’s Not?

By Published On: March 1st, 2012

Many of the medications – both prescription medicines you get from a doctor and the kind you get over the counter at a store – you may have been taking for months, even years, may no longer be safe or suitable for you to take once you become pregnant. Being very careful about just what medications – including medications that are considered natural or alternative – you take is very important.

The Medications You Already Am Taking

Lots of women take medicine regularly for lots of different reasons. It is very important that you tell your gynecologist all about them at your very first appointment so that he or she can access them with you and even talk to other doctors you see about them to determine if they are safe to continue taking or whether the dosages need to be adjusted and perhaps even a different medication prescribed.

List all of the medications you take, including vitamins and herbs and especially any medications you might be taking for skin conditions or acne as some of them have been linked to birth defects.

While you are pregnant you may still be seeing another doctor to manage conditions or illnesses that are not directly related to your pregnancy. It is important that these doctors know about your pregnancy and that you still check with your OB about any medication you may have been prescribed before you begin taking it.

Over the Counter Medications

Usually the real confusion over medications begins for a pregnant woman when it comes to over the counter medication for things like colds, coughs, headaches and other minor ailments. Just what is OK to take and what isn’t?

It can never be said that any medication is 100% safe to take while you are expecting. Does that mean you are doomed to suffer from a nagging headache for nine months because you cannot take a paracetamol tablet?

Actually, a simple paracetamol is one thing most doctors feel is safe for Moms to be to take and fortunately it is a good all around pain reliever for many nagging aches. Many other medications, especially those multi symptoms cold remedies that tend to become a staple in everyone’s medicine cabinet during flu season are off limits if you are pregnant, at least in the eyes of most medical professionals.

Before you take any over the counter medication take the time to make a call to your doctor’s office to ask the opinion of your doctor or their nurses. There are a few other OTC medicines that are considered OK to take but it is best to check these things out on a case by case basis.

Alternative and Herbal Medications

Many women who are pregnant consider turning to alternative medicine to help relieve ailments that might crop up during pregnancy, especially since most conventional drugs are not suitable for them to take at the moment. The difficulty here is that most of these remedies have never been tested or researched in the way that conventional medicines have, meaning that a lot of the time even your doctor has no idea whether they are safe for pregnant women to take or not.

There are some alternative medications and treatments that have been tested over the years and found to be safe and fairly effective too. These actually address some of the most common ailments and complaints associated with pregnancy.

Alternative Medications to Relieve Morning Sickness

Morning sickness really can take a lot of the joy out of discovering you are pregnant and the daily nausea, that for many women is all day sickness rather than just morning sickness, can be truly unpleasant. There are a few conventional medications available that can help thwart it but most doctors prefer that women try some of the natural alternatives first.

Ginger root has been used by women all over the world to help relieve morning sickness symptoms. The fresher it is the better it seems to work but some women who just can’t stand the taste do still get some relief taking a supplement that contains ginger extract instead.

Vitamin B6 is another remedy that doctors know is safe for pregnant women that can be very effective in at least helping to decrease the daily misery that morning sickness can cause. The added benefit here is that B6 is, like all b vitamins, a great energy booster as well.

Another very common ailment that affects pregnant ladies – hemorrhoids – may be relived with an astringent liquid made from white oak bark as it is very good at reducing inflammation. Witch hazel is also an excellent choice.

Alternative Medications To Avoid in Pregnancy

There are a lot of herbs that when taken as a tea, or used as a spice in cooking can be very helpful during pregnancy. Taking some of them in concentrated form (usually when the herbal extract is mixed with alcohol) is not recommended though. The following herbs when taken this way have all either been linked with potential birth defects or with the danger that they may cause early labor and should be avoided: Arbor vitae, Beth root, Black cohosh, Blue cohosh, Cascara, Chaste tree berry, Chinese angelica (Dong Quai), Cinchona, Cotton root bark, Feverfew, Ginseng, Golden seal, Juniper, Kava kava, Licorice, Meadow saffron, Pennyroyal, Poke root, Rue, Sage, St. John’s wort, Senna and Tansy.

The guidelines for medications that are “safe’ for an expectant Mum to take do change from time to time, especially since researchers are working all the time to try to make sure that women do not take a medication that may harm their unborn baby. Your best resource if you have any concerns about a medication or an alternative treatment is your gynae or obstetrician, never be afraid to give them a call to ask for their advice.