Many women need to take medicines when they are pregnant. There are about six million pregnancies in the U.S. each year, and 50% of pregnant women say that 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 healthcare provider about how prescription and over-the-counter medicines might affect you and your baby.
- Asking questions
Always talk to your healthcare provider before you take any medicines, herbs, or vitamins. Don’t stop taking your medicines until your healthcare provider says that 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 healthcare provider to 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 healthcare provider may have you take something else.
Will I need to take 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 pre-natal vitamins.
- 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 healthcare provider can help you decide if you should take the medicine.
The prescription drug labels are changing. The new labels will replace the old 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.
- Be smart online
Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about the information you get online.
Some websites say that drugs are safe to take during pregnancy, but you should check with your healthcare 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 healthcare provider before you use a product that you heard about in a chat room or group.
- Report Problems
First, tell your healthcare provider about any problems you have with your medicine. Also, tell FDA about any serious problems you have after taking a medicine.
You should report problems like serious side effects, product quality problems and product use errors.
Report problems with these products: human drugs, medical devices, blood products and other biologics (except vaccines), and medical foods.