Some medicines, if taken during pregnancy, can pass from the mother to her baby via the placenta. The effect that a medicine has on a baby will depend on the individual medicine and at what stage of the pregnancy it is taken.
Some medicines may cause problems
Certain medicines can cause developmental problems, or problems in the womb, such as contractions, or early labor. For example, warfarin, which is used to prevent
blood clots, can cause birth defects.
Some medicines can cause problems if taken in the first three months (trimester) of pregnancy, but are safe to take in the second, or third, trimester. For others types of medicine, the position is reversed.
Always talk to your doctor, or pharmacist first, if you need to take a medicine while you are pregnant. This will ensure that have the most up-to-date information and advice before you make your decision about whether to take a particular medicine.
Essential medicines - that is, medicines that you need to take to control a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes, or epilepsy - can often be taken in ways that are less likely to cause harm to your baby. Alternatively, the type of medicine that you normally use can be changed to one that is known to be safe to use during pregnancy.
If you have a virus during pregnancy, there are some medicines that are known to be safe. For others, there may not be enough evidence to determine whether it is definitely safe. If there are any potential risks to your baby's health, your doctor will help you to weigh up the risks and benefits of a treatment.
Paracetamol can be used to treat the common symptoms of many viruses, such as a high temperature, headache, and muscle
pain. Paracetamol is the best type of painkiller for occasional use during pregnancy.
Speak to your doctor, or pharmacist before taking acetaminophen. Aspirin, or non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, should be avoided during pregnancy, particularly during the third trimester.
If you experience
pain frequently during your pregnancy, check with your doctor, that there is no underlying problem.
Cough and cold remedies
It is best too avoid over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold remedies because they often contain a combination of ingredients, such as
antihistamines, caffeine, and ibuprofen, which may not be safe to use during pregnancy.
Before taking any medicine, including OTC medicines, you should check whether they are suitable for use during pregnancy.
Vaccinations, such as the chickenpox vaccination, are not generally recommended during pregnancy, but your doctor will advise you.
It is safe to have the flu vaccine during pregnancy but you should have the thiomersal-free vaccine (mercury-free) wherever possible.
The use of herbal remedies is not recommended during pregnancy. This is because not enough is known about any possible long-term effects that they may have, and they could possibly harm your baby.