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
high blood pressure or
Before prescribing any medicine, your doctor or nurse-midwife will
look at whether the risk of taking medicine is higher than the risk of not
treating your illness. If you or your baby would face worse problems without
treatment, then your doctor or nurse-midwife will prescribe medicine or
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
It can be hard to know if a medicine is safe for your baby. Most
medicines are not studied in pregnant women, 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
In general, doctors say it is usually safe to take:
If you are planning a pregnancy, talk to your doctor or
nurse-midwife about any medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter
ones. Some of them may be safe during pregnancy. But others may not be safe.
Your doctor or nurse-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, stopping a medicine (such as one that
controls seizures) has greater risk to the mother and the baby than continuing
to take the medicine. Talk to your doctor about any medicines you take if you
are thinking about having a baby or if you have just found out that you are
Among the medicines that increase the chances of birth defects
Talk to your doctor or nurse-midwife about any herbal supplements
that you have been taking. Don't take any vitamins or herbal or other supplements
unless you talk with your doctor or nurse-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 especially important prior to 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 in a multivitamin that
your doctor or nurse-midwife prescribes. Talk to your doctor or nurse-midwife
about which type of vitamin you should take. In some cases, doctors and
nurse-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.
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
July 23, 2012
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
& Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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