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What medications are safe during pregnancy?

The most important thing about taking any kind of medication while pregnant is to consult your doctor or pharmacist beforehand. While most medications and treatments will not harm the fetus, most drugs cross the placenta and so there may be some minor risks. It is therefore best to avoid certain medications. It is also important to check with your doctor before you stop taking medication such as insulin or levothyroxine as an untreated illness can have a harmful effect on your pregnancy.
A Teratogen is the term used to describe an agent that causes a birth defect to occur at a higher rate than expected. Such agents can be a drug, an infection, a chemical, radiation or a condition that the mother might suffer from. It can often be difficult to determine in most cases whether these agents were the direct cause of the birth defect or miscarriage.
Most teratogens are at their most dangerous during the embytonic period which is from week 5 to 10. This is when the major organs are being developed. Some drugs can be harmful at any stage of pregnancy.
There are some conditions which can be treated by medication while pregnant. The following is a list of conditions and the medication that you can take.
  • Asthma – Budesonide is found in inhalers and nasal sprays
  • Bladder Infection – Nitrofurantoin
  • Cough - Dextromethrophan which is found in Robitussin DM sugar free, Benylin Adult, Vicks VapoRub
  • Constipation – Docusate which is found in Duclax, Polyethyelene glycol, milk of magnesia
  • Diarrhea – Loperamide which is found in Imodium A-D, Insulin, Glyburide, Metformin
  • Gas - Simethicone
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease - Ranitidine which is found in Zantac and Cimetidine
  • Hayfever, sneezing, runny nose, itchy watery eyes – Diphenhydramine and Chlorpheniramine
  • Headache or fever - Paracetamol, which is found in Lemsip and Panadol
  • Hemorrhoids – Anusol and Preparation H
  • High blood pressure – Methyldopa
  • Hyperprolactinemia – Bromocriptine and Carbergoline
  • Hypothyroidism - Thyroid hormone and Levothyroxine
  • Infection – Acyclovir which is found in Zovirax, Azthitromycin which is found in Zithromax, Cepaholosporins, Clindamycin, Erythromycin, Penicillins and Metronidazole.
  • Insomnia - Doxylamine
  • Motion sickness – Dimenhydrinate
  • Nausea – Ginger, Metoclopramide, Pyridoxine 25 mg PO TID WITH Unisom Sleep Tabs (Doxylamine Succinate 25 mg) 1/2 tablet TID
  • Preeclampsia - Magnesium sulphate
  • Vaginal yeast infection - Clotrimazole cream
Avoid cold remedies that contain alcohol. Also avoid the decongestants pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, which can affect blood flow to the placenta.

Here are some drugs to avoid:

Avoid decongestants such as pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, especially in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. These drugs have been reported to lead to birth defects in some cases. The risks of this are low but could be higher if you are a smoker. After 13 weeks, occasional use of these medications is probably safe. Taking this medication once or twice daily for no more than 2 days should be fine but more frequent use can reduce blood flow to the placenta.
Pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, sodium salicylate and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be avoided. These drugs have been shown to results in miscarriage when taken in the first month of pregnancy and if taken in the second and third trimester may result in a birth defect. Also when aspirin is taken within a week of delivery, it can increase the amount of bleeding you will have at the birth.

Some liquid cold medicines have high concentrations of alcohol so make sure that the medication you take is labelled “alcohol free.”
Remember that no drug is 100 percent safe for all women, so it's a good idea to check with your doctor or midwife before taking any kind of medicine during pregnancy. Don't take more than the recommended dose and, if possible, avoid taking anything during your first trimester, when your developing baby is most vulnerable. 
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