Medicine And Pregnancy

03-04-2018The Well

Are you pregnant and taking medicines? You are not alone. Many women need to take medicines when they are pregnant. There are about six million pregnancies in the U.S. each year, and 50% of pregnant women say that they take at least one medicine. Some women take medicines for health problems, like diabetes, morning sickness or high blood pressure that can start or get worse when a woman is pregnant. Others take medicines before they realize they are pregnant.

Pregnancy can be an exciting time. However, this time can also make you feel uneasy if you are not sure how your medicines will affect your baby. Not all medicines are safe to take when you are pregnant. Even headache or pain medicine may not be safe during certain times in your pregnancy.

Here are four (4) tips to help you talk to your healthcare provider about how prescription and over-the-counter medicines might affect you and your baby:

1. Ask Questions. Always talk to your healthcare provider before you take any medicines, herbs, or vitamins. Don't stop taking your medicines until your healthcare provider says that it is OK. Use these questions to help you talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist:

  1. Will I need to change my medicines if I want to get pregnant? Before you get pregnant, work with your healthcare provider to make a plan to help you safely use your medicines.
  2. How might this medicine affect my baby? Ask about the benefits and risks for you and your baby.
  3. What medicines and herbs should I avoid? Some drugs can harm your baby during different stages of your pregnancy. At these times, your healthcare provider may have you take something else.
  4. Will I need to take more or less of my medicine? Your heart and kidneys work harder when you are pregnant. This makes medicines pass through your body faster than usual.
  5.  Can I keep taking this medicine when I start breastfeeding? Some drugs can get into your breast milk and affect your baby.
  6. What kind of vitamins should I take? Ask about special vitamins for pregnant women called pre-natal vitamins.

2. Read the Label. Check the drug label and other information you get with your medicine to learn about the possible risks for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The labeling tells you what is known about how the drugs might affect pregnant women. Your healthcare provider can help you decide if you should take the medicine.

3. Be Smart Online. Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about the information you get online. Some websites say that drugs are safe to take during pregnancy, but you should check with your healthcare provider first. Every woman's body is different. It may not be safe for you. Do not trust that a product is safe just because it says 'natural'. Check with your healthcare provider before you use a product that you heard about in a chat room or group.

4. Report Problems. Tell your healthcare provider about any problems you have with your medicine.

Protect Your Family From Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs help us return to whole health when we need them or they keep us comfortable after surgery. But once those drugs have served their purpose, we need to be diligent in disposing of them so our children or family members don’t get access to them.

Fortunately, there is an initiative in Illinois to educate and help us in the disposal of medication. The Community Alliance For Prevention has been established to aid families in understanding the importance of proper disposal of prescription and over the counter medication. They work alongside many local agencies to help establish safe place for disposal. Safe disposal of unused prescription drugs helps keep our children safe. Drop boxes are available at the Naperville Police Station, all Naperville Fire Stations and the Walgreen's on 87th street. For details see Naperville Prescription Drug Box Drop-Off Locations. For more information of how the Community Alliance for Prevention helps communities, go to

As always, if you have questions or concerns about your health or regarding a family member, feel free to contact Kathy Ford RN/Parish Nurse at 630-922-0081 or