Medicine and Pregnancy
Being pregnant can lead to a host of other discomfort, such as pain, colds and cases of the flu because of the mother’s suppressed immune system. However, before mothers reach for an over-the-counter medication, it is important to know which medications are safe to take during pregnancy.
Sudafed is used to treat cold symptoms, such as congestion and sinus pain and pressure. Sudafed, which contains pseudoephedrine, can be safely used in the second and third trimesters. However, pregnant women should completely avoid Sudafed PE, which contains phenylephrine.
Dayquil can relieve cold symptoms, such as a cough, stuffy nose, body aches, and fever. While it does not shorten the length of the cold, it can make someone with a cold much more comfortable. It does not contain antihistamines, so it is non-drowsy. There are not enough studies to determine the safety of Dayquil during pregnancy, so it should be avoided, especially during the first trimester.
Because some cold medications can cause adverse effects in unborn babies, women may want to consider using more natural remedies when they are feeling sick. One lesser-known cold medication, Umcka, is an extract from the Pelargonium sidoides plant. It helps ease cold symptoms while speeding recovery. This natural remedy is safe to take during pregnancy.
Phenylephrine is a decongestant that helps relieve a stuffy nose and other sinus problems caused by allergies or colds. This ingredient is found in several over-the-counter cold and allergy medications, but it may not be the best choice during pregnancy because it can cause congenital defects. This is especially true in the form that is taken by mouth because it narrows blood vessels in the uterus, limiting the amount of blood the baby gets.
Nitroimidazole antibiotics have been used to treat anaerobic bacterial and parasitic infections. One example of a nitroimidazole antibiotic is azithromycin, which is considered a category B drug. This means it has been shown safe in animal studies but has been used limited times in humans. One study showed that there is no link between using antibiotics, like azithromycin, and congenital disabilities..
Amoxicillin is another category B drug, so pregnant women can safely take this antibiotic. This drug can treat pneumonia, bronchitis, and urinary tract infections (UTI). It stops infections by killing harmful bacteria in the body. This is a low-risk drug, no matter what trimester a woman is in.
Metformin, which is a prescription drug used to treat both type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), is used to help control blood sugar levels. It treats type 2 diabetes by helping the body use insulin. It also can help with PCOS because PCOS is often linked with insulin resistance.
Metformin is safe to take during pregnancy and can even offer benefits such as helping maintain healthy blood sugar levels. In diabetic women, it can reduce the likelihood of miscarriages. For women who have PCOS, some studies have shown that Metformin can even help reduce the risk of miscarriage.
For women who are at a higher risk for gestational diabetes, their doctor may prescribe Metformin because it can help prevent the onset of diabetes.
Tylenol, also known by its generic name, acetaminophen, is often one of the only pain medications doctors recommend pregnant women take. If they are suffering from pain or a fever, doctors recommend that women take this medication to reduce or eliminate their symptoms. About 65 percent of pregnant women have taken Tylenol because it is considered safer than other over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
Tylenol Extra Strength
It is generally safe to take Tylenol Extra Strength during pregnancy. However, pregnant women should remember that it has a higher dose of acetaminophen than regular Tylenol. They can take the recommended dose for adults — two pills every six hours — as long as they make sure they do not take more than six pills in 24 hours.
Tylenol PM includes both acetaminophen and diphenhydramine, which is the antihistamine in other drugs like Benadryl. As long as pregnant women take Tylenol PM for only a short amount of time and do not take it too often, this medication is safe. Pregnant women should make sure they stick with the recommended dose of no more than two pills at bedtime every 24 hours.
If pregnant women are considering taking Tylenol PM because they are having trouble sleeping, they may want to talk to their doctors about more permanent ways of getting enough rest at night.
Risks of Tylenol
Even though Tylenol is considered one of the safest pain relievers during pregnancy, some risks are still associated with it. Studies have shown that the main concern is that Tylenol can pass from the bloodstream to the baby and result in autism, lower IQ, asthma, or ADHD.
However, the risk of any of these problems is very small, and there is not enough research to confirm these problems in newborn babies. Many studies on this risk had focused on animals or a very high dose of Tylenol. Other evidence comes from self-reports from women. However, to be on the safe side, health care experts recommend taking the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time.
Natural Pain Relief During Pregnancy
Some pregnant women may suffer from pain, such as headaches and backaches, for an extended period. In this case, it is best to avoid taking Tylenol for very long. There are several more natural ways of relieving this pain that is healthier for the baby.
- Hot or cold packs: Hot packs may help relieve backache or headache, while cold packs can help relieve a tension headache.
- Water: Pregnant women need to drink enough water. This is because dehydration can lead to headaches.
- Pillows: Placing a pillow between the legs while lying on the side can take the pressure off the lower back.
- Stretches and yoga: Doing gentle exercises like those in yoga can help relieve tension while strengthening the muscles that support the baby. This can take some pressure off the lower back.
- Meditation: Meditation can help reduce stress, which makes pregnant women less likely to get a headache. Pregnant women can see results by doing meditation a few minutes a day.
Pregnant women who are suffering from panic attacks or anxiety may have been taking Xanax before pregnancy. However, Xanax is considered a pregnancy category D drug, which means it can harm pregnancies. Taking it during the first trimester can cause congenital disabilities, such as cleft lip or cleft palate. In the second trimester, Xanax can be addictive for babies, causing them to have withdrawal symptoms after pregnant women stop taking it.
Dextromethorphan, an over-the-counter cough suppressant, is considered fairly safe to take during pregnancy, as it does not cause a baby to have congenital disabilities. However, pregnant women should only take dextromethorphan as directed. This is because taking too much can cause confusion, dizziness, and slurred speech, among other symptoms. The drug can affect the baby, as well.
This over-the-counter medication can treat digestive issues, such as heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, and upset stomach. According to the American Family Physician, it may not be safe to take in the second and third trimesters because it can raise the risk of bleeding. However, there is not enough research to determine the safety of using Pepto-Bismol in any trimester. Therefore, it may be best to avoid this medication.
Women who are suffering from mood conditions, such as depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder, may have been treating their condition with Seroquel before pregnancy. There is limited information available on the safety of Seroquel during pregnancy, and it is classified as a pregnancy category C drug. This means that in animal studies, this drug has had an adverse reaction on the fetus, and so there are no studies on humans.
One risk of using Seroquel during the second or third trimester is that the unborn baby may become addicted to the drug and then go through withdrawal after birth. Other symptoms babies show after their mothers have taken Seroquel include respiratory distress, feeding disorders, agitation, and tremors. Some reactions have been more severe than others, ranging from limited reactions to those who needed to be hospitalized for extended periods.
Women suffering from mood disorders should consult their doctors before using Seroquel during pregnancy.
Gravol is an antihistamine used to treat nausea and vomiting. It is safe to take during pregnancy, and one study even showed that Gravol is slightly more effective than vitamin B6 in treating nausea during pregnancy.
Regardless of which medications women choose to take during pregnancy, they should always consult with their doctors before trying a new one. This helps in having safe pregnancies and delivering the healthiest babies possible.