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How to Avoid Harmful Medications During Pregnancy

It can be a daunting task for a pregnant woman to avoid all the substances that might be harmful to her baby. It’s commonly known that street, or illegal, drugs can be harmful if used during pregnancy. Unfortunately, many prescription and over-the-counter medications are contraindicated for use during pregnancy as well. Luckily, there are warning labels and other protocols in place to help women avoid harmful medications.


6 Steps to Avoid Harmful Medications During Pregnancy

Medications During Pregnancy

1. Speak to your doctor about the benefits and risks of continuing to take a prescription medication for a chronic illness.

In some cases, the possible consequences of not taking your medication can outweigh the potential risks of taking it. For example, women who have epilepsy, depression, asthma or are HIV-positive may have serious health problems if they discontinue medication.

2. Investigate whether there are alternative, less harmful medications that you can take to manage a chronic illness during pregnancy.

Within some classes of medications, one drug may be safer for your baby than another.


3. Learn the pregnancy letter categories associated with medications.

The letters designate the level of harm associated with the medication.

The categories are: A (no problems reported), B (no problems reported in human studies), C (no studies have been done), D (studies show some complications in babies) and X (studies show the medication should never be used by pregnant women).


4. Avoid taking over-the-counter pain medications that are commonly known to be of risk during pregnancy.

These include: aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. All of them interfere with blood clotting and can cause blood flow problems to the baby.


5. Read labels carefully.

Many products indicate that pregnant women should contact their doctor before use, but some, such as nicotine replacement products, specifically advise against use during pregnancy.


6. Avoid herbal supplements and some herbal teas during pregnancy.

While mint tea is harmless and soothing for morning sickness, other herbs can stimulate contractions and cause premature labor. When in doubt, talk to your doctor or don’t use the product.


Tips and Warnings

  • The anti-acne medications Accutane and Tegison should never be taken during pregnancy. They cause severe, deforming birth defects.
  • Anticonvulsants have been associated with heart defects and mental retardation in babies. Women with epilepsy should talk to their doctor before getting pregnant.
  • The use of antimigraine drugs increases the risk of premature labor.
  • Some anticoagulant drugs for heart disease have been shown to cause significant birth defects. Talk to your doctor if you are on these types of drugs and are, or are planning to be, pregnant.


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