Taking Medicines In Pregnancy
ANTIEMETICS If you need to take an antiemetic because morning sickness is severe, your doctor will advise about the safest types available.
ANTIHISTAMINES Some prescribed and common over-the-counter types are contraindicated in pregnancy. If you suffer from hay fever or another form of allergy, consult your doctor before taking antihistamines.
PAINKILLERS Paracetamol is probably the best option during pregnancy. Avoid aspirin (unless your doctor prescribes it for a specific reason), ibuprofen and ergotamine (migraine remedy).
ANTIBIOTICS If you are prescribed antibiotics for an infection, the penicillin family of drugs will not endanger your baby. If you are allergic to penicillin, erythromycin is a safe alternative. The antibiotics that follow should be avoided because they cause problems in early pregnancy.
- Tetracyclines can cause discoloration and deformity of a baby’s teeth and bones.
- Chloramphenicol was a frequently prescribed antibiotic but is rarely used now, except to treat typhoid fever, because of potential abnormal blood reactions in the baby. The chloramphenicol contained in eye drops will not harm your pregnancy.
- Streptomycin should be avoided in pregnant woman since it can cause hearing loss in the fetus.
- Sulphonamides are broad spectrum antibiotics that can cause jaundice in newborn babies and severe allergic reactions in the mother.
LAXATIVES Constipation can be treated by adding fibre to your diet and by drinking plenty of water. If you need to take a laxative, opt for the bulk-forming cellulose types such as Fybogel. Avoid senna-based laxatives: they irritate the gut, which has the potential to trigger uterine contractions.
ANTACIDS Most antacids are effective and safe to use to treat heartburn and indigestion. If you need iron tablets take them separately because antacids reduce their absorption.
COLD AND FLU REMEDIES Read the labels on cold and flu remedies carefully because most contain ingredients such as antihistamines and caffeine, which should be avoided in pregnancy. Taking paracetamol and a hot drink is usually just as effective.
STEROIDS Creams containing steroids for eczema and other skin disorders should be used sparingly in pregnancy but are unlikely to cause problems. Steroid inhalers for asthma are similarly trouble-free. If you are taking oral steroids for a disorder such as Crohn’s disease, do not stop taking them, but see your doctor for advice. Anabolic (body-building) steroids should never be used in pregnancy because they can have a masculinising effect on a female fetus.