Are you pregnant and taking medicines? You are not alone. Many women need to take medicines when they are pregnant. There are about six million pregnancies in the United States each year, and 50 percent of pregnant women say they take at least one medicine. Some women take medicines for health problems, like diabetes, morning sickness or high blood pressure that can start or get worse when a woman is pregnant. Others take medicines before they realize they are pregnant.
Pregnancy can be an exciting time. However, this time can also make you feel uneasy if you are not sure how your medicines will affect your baby. Not all medicines are safe to take when you are pregnant. Even headache or pain medicine may not be safe during certain times in your pregnancy.
Here are four tips to help you talk to your health-care provider about how prescription and over-the-counter medicines might affect you and your baby.
1. Ask questions. Always talk to your health-care provider before you take any medicines, herbs or vitamins. Don’t stop taking your medicines until your health-care provider says it is OK. Use these questions to help you talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist:
- Will I need to change my medicines if I want to get pregnant? Before you get pregnant, work with your health-care provider to make a plan to help you safely use your medicines.
- How might this medicine affect my baby? Ask about the benefits and risks for you and your baby.
- What medicines and herbs should I avoid? Some drugs can harm your baby during different stages of your pregnancy. At these times, your health-care provider may have you take something else.
- Will I need to take more or less of my medicine? Your heart and kidneys work harder when you are pregnant. This makes medicines pass through your body faster than usual.
- Can I keep taking this medicine when I start breastfeeding? Some drugs can get into your breast milk and affect your baby.
- What kind of vitamins should I take? Ask about special vitamins for pregnant women called prenatal vitamins.
2. Read the label. Check the drug label and other information you get with your medicine to learn about the possible risks for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The labeling tells you what is known about how the drugs might affect pregnant women. Your health-care provider can help you decide if you should take the medicine. The prescription drug labels are changing. The new labels will replace the old A, B, C, D and X categories with more helpful information about a medicine’s risks. The labels will also have more information on whether the medicine gets into breast milk and how it can possibly affect the baby.
3. Be smart online. Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about the information you get online. Some websites say drugs are safe to take during pregnancy, but you should check with your health-care provider first. Every woman’s body is different. It may not be safe for you.
- Do not trust that a product is safe just because it says “natural”.
- Check with your health-care provider before you use a product that you heard about in a chat room or group.
4. Report problems. First, tell your health-care provider about any problems you have with your medicine. Also, tell the Food and Drug Administration (800-FDA-1088) about any serious problems you have after taking a medicine.
The information and material on this website, including all text and graphic images, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice. The content displayed is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis, and should not be the basis for disregarding professional medical advice. For questions or concerns regarding health or medical conditions, do not delay in seeking the advice of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.
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