Medicine and Pregnancy Questions and Answers

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Many people need to take medicine to stay healthy during pregnancy.  However, not all medicines are safe to take during pregnancy. Discussing your medication use with a healthcare provider before you get pregnant can help you make a plan to keep you and your baby healthy.

A: Many people need to take medicine to stay healthy before and during pregnancy. If you are planning to become pregnant, you should discuss your current medicines with your healthcare provider. Some medicines can cause birth defects very early in pregnancy, often before you even know you are pregnant. Creating a treatment plan for your health condition before you are pregnant can help keep you and your baby healthy.

Check out ways to plan for a healthy pregnancy.

A: If you are pregnant, talk to your healthcare providers before starting or stopping any medicines, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, herbal and dietary supplements, and vitamins. The FDA’s Office of Women’s Health developed a tool in English and Spanish to help you keep a record of the medicines you take.

If you have certain health conditions, such as asthma, epilepsy, high blood pressure, or depression, you may need to take medicines to stay healthy during pregnancy. Some untreated health conditions may be more harmful than the medicines used to control them.

However, we do know that some medicines can increase the risk of birth defects, pregnancy loss, prematurity, infant death, or developmental disabilities. A healthcare professional can help you weigh the risks and benefits of each medicine and determine the safest treatment for you and your baby.

A: If you are concerned about medicines you took before you knew you were pregnant, you can talk with your healthcare provider about your concerns. Some medicines can be harmful when taken during pregnancy, but others are unlikely to cause harm. If you are concerned and cannot reach your doctor, you can contact an expert for free through email, text, call, or live chat on the MotherToBaby website.

A: Use caution when consulting online sources about medicine safety in pregnancy– instead, use the information you find to start a conversation with a healthcare professional. Many websites post lists of medicines that are “safe” to take during pregnancy. However, for many medicines listed, there is not enough scientific evidence of their safety during pregnancy.

Take caution when watching online videos as well. A 2015 study found that content in current YouTube videos does not accurately describe the safety of specific medicines used during pregnancy. It is important that you to talk with a healthcare professional about potential risks of using medicines during pregnancy.

A: Although many medications do pass into breast milk, most have little or no effect on milk supply or on infant well-being. For more detailed information, LactMed is an online database that provides information about specific medicines, ways they might affect you or your baby, and potential alternatives to consider. Information in this database can help guide the conversation with your healthcare professional about managing your health conditions while breastfeeding.

Check out more ways to keep you and your baby healthy after pregnancy.