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Over the Counter Medication

Pregnant or not, we all tend to get our share of illnesses. During pregnancy however we will wonder which medication is safe and which should be avoided. There are a lot of drugs which were once safe to buy off the shelf but are now best avoided. As a pregnant lady it is advisable to follow your doctor's advice on what you should take even if you come down with the garden variety of colds, coughs and tummy aches. Always inform the pharmacist or doctor about your pregnancy especially in the early months when you may not be showing. However if you are on some medication prior to pregnancy chances are you will need to continue with it even after becoming pregnant. Your doctor will most likely modify the medication to suit you during your pregnant months.

The Plain Facts

  • Some drugs can cause an early miscarriage
  • Drugs are thought to account for 2-3 % of birth defects
  • Very few medications are completely safe

That said, be open with your doctor on your history and the medications you have been taking before you conceived, if any. If you are seeking treatment be precise in your explanation when you come down with an infection, however mild. Here is a guide on what you can and what you should not take during pregnancy.

Antibiotics. Some antibiotics are safe but those which are not can be exceptionally hazardous. For bacterial infections, antibiotics can become necessary. Since it is a prescribed course of treatment, your doctor will suggest something appropriate to your present condition. Always mention your pregnancy when an antibiotic is being prescribed, especially if he/she is not your regular doctor.

Allergy medications. These include decongestants, nasal sprays, antihistamines and allergy shots. When pregnant avoid decongestants, antihistamines unless prescribed by your doc. Steroid and nonsteroid sprays are usually safe but still, get your doc's permission just to be on the safe side.

Antacids. Antacids are generally safe if they are taken as directed. However for some, the side effects can be bothersome since the chief ingredient is sodium. Swelling and water retention tends to worsen. Some women experience diarrhea and constipation. Additionally antacids can reduce the absorption of vitamins and other medications so ideally they should not be taken together; give a gap of an hour between antacids and other medicines or vitamins.

Anticoagulants. Anticoagulants are blood thinners that help prevent harmful clots from forming by decreasing the clotting ability. Pregnant women who require anti-clotting medication because of their inherited clotting disorder or the tendency to develop blood clots during pregnancy can depend on Heparin. This anticoagulant doesn't cross the placenta and so does not harm the fetus; it is safe to use during pregnancy. However the heparin shots should be managed by an experienced doctor. Leave it to your doctor to prescribe the suitable course of treatment if you have issues of clotting. Another common form of blood thinner, Warfarin should be avoided as they are harmful to the fetus.

Cold medicines. There is quite a variety of decongestants, cough syrups and nasal sprays in the market to treat the common cold. Because most of them contain codeine, aspirin or ibuprofen (which have been linked with birth defects), it is best to refrain from using them. Moreover cold medications may provide you the relief but they do not cure the illness. It is best to go the natural way by resting and taking lots of fluids.

Cystitis remedies. They are not considered safe because of the high salt content.

Diarrhea remedies. Once again not safe because they slow down the action of the stomach and the intestines, which are already sluggish due to pregnancy hormones.

Laxatives. Some nonprescription laxatives, mainly the bulk forming version, are safe. However the problem is although safe they can become habit forming. An overuse creates a degree of dependency without which you feel helpless. The unsafe varieties have senna as an ingredient, which may cross the placenta and also prevent your bowels from functioning properly in the long run. The best way to deal with constipation is by including lots of fiber-rich foods and fluids in your daily diet.

Migraine remedies. Codeine is an ingredient in migraine medicines so check with your doctor for safer alternatives.

Pain relievers

Acetaminophen. This drug is sold under various brand names including Tylenol and Paracetamol. In small quantities they are not harmful; when taken in recommended doses as stated on the label they are considered safe. Acetaminophen is good for pains and as fever reducers when taken in low doses. An overdose however can cause liver and kidney problems and even fetal death. Do not exceed the directed dose.

Aspirin. Avoid its use during pregnancy unless specifically prescribed by your doc. Aspirin has been known to cause birth defects and bleeding problems in the mother.

Ibuprofen. The trade names include Advil, Motrin etcetera and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should only be taken under doctor's guidance as they pose problems in fetal heart growth.For pain relief try natural alternatives. When you have a headache or a body ache try resting, avoid light and use a cool pack on your head, sip on weak tea, go for a body or head massage and have a warm bath.

Vapor rubs. These are safe.

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Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
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