Expecting a baby comes with a great deal of dos and don’ts, mostly for the sake of the baby, but for the mother as well. New mothers have to be aware of this fact and follow their doctor’s directions precisely. Most new mothers realize the dangers or know about the risks and drastic negative effects some things have on newborns.
However what many new mothers may not realize is the effects regular over-the-counter (OTC) medication may have on their unborn babies. It can be difficult for mothers to remember because it’s so easy to forget or they're so used to taking the medicine when they feel under weather.
There are OTC medications that have side effects. Expecting women could start out with a chance of having a baby with a birth defect if they're unaware about the side effects of their medications. Some readily available medications will be safe to take during pregnancy without causing effects on your baby, while others won't be safe because it will cause harmful effects on your child.
It’s very important during pregnancy to try as hard as possible to take care of one's self so they won’t get sick and take OTC medications in situations when mom is truly under the weather. If an expectant mom does get sick during her pregnancy, she should contact her doctor so they can inform her as to what medications are safe to take.
Doctors will discuss which medication to take and what not to take with their patients should that patient be expecting and fall ill.
No medication can be considered completely safe, but here's what women should be looking out for:
15 Aspirin, The Beginning Of The NSAIDS
This often used medication may be completely safe to take for most adults, but it can be dangerous for your unborn baby. Aspirin can cause severe blood flow in the baby, especially during the last three months of pregnancy. Aspirin is known to relax blood vessels so blood will circulate easier.
It’s used to fight blood clots and thin blood. This is not good at all for unborn babies. It can also increase the likelihood of both you and the baby bleeding too frequently during childbirth. Since this medicine thins the blood, it can be dangerous for those who bleed. Some medicine that has Aspirin in it includes Bayer and Excedrin.
Be sure to check the ingredients of any and all medication as well as asking your doctor. A possible alternative is Tylenol but make sure you ask your doctor before taking this one too. Some people have side effects to Acetaminophen as well.
14 Anti-Anxiety Medications
Drugs like Diazepam are used for anxiety attacks and people experiencing anxiety for whatever reason. This can be especially true for a new mother. So it can be tempting to take an anxiety drug to calm your nerves but don’t do it. Although you may be experiencing anxiety, your baby isn’t.
This drug can cause depression, irritability, shaking, and exaggerated reflexes or movements in the newborn. Try calming your nerves through light exercising, like walking, which helps get your mind off of things. Clean the house, practice breathing methods or do something you like doing like shopping for your little one.
Figure out what triggers your anxiety and combat it before it takes a hold of you. If it’s nerves of bringing in a baby into the world, visit nurseries or daycares or watch TV shows related to children, even cartoons, that make you think of your little one coming into the world.
13 Kaopectate; Pepto Bismol
One thing most pregnant women experience is an upset stomach, ranging from mild to serious. Certain foods will cause your stomach to disrupt instantly, while other foods you ate before pregnancy (and after) suddenly don’t agree with you. So it will be easy to reach out for the Pepto Bismol or like products and find some relief for your upset stomach.
But avoid this product and others that contain the drug Bismuth subsalicylate. This drug should be avoided altogether during pregnancy. The first 20 weeks of pregnancy it should be used with caution and then after that it should be avoided completely. The problems it has on your unborn baby include a decreased blood flow to the baby, especially during the last three months of pregnancy.
This obviously is very dangerous and cause serious health issues like cognitive impairment or defects and death to the baby while in the womb. A possible alternative is Imodium.
12 Dimetapp Cold And Allergy Medicine
Due to the changes in weather and exposure to germs, pregnant mothers are susceptible to colds. And many may experience allergies due to the change in seasons. It’s very important for expectant mothers to keep themselves healthy and cold-free during their nine months of pregnancy.
Staying allergy free may be more difficult but it’s important to not reach for any cold or allergy medicine to cure your ailment. The drug you need to avoid is Brompheniramine. It can cause deformities and congenital abnormalities in the newborn. Use with caution the first 36 weeks, and after that, it should not be taken.
Two possible alternatives are Claritin and Zyrtec. But you should contact your doctor before taking any cold or allergy medicine. Many cold and allergy medicines will have small dosages of the same or similar drugs based on their strength. If you are taking the alternatives, take them in very light doses and avoid the extra-strength products.
11 Intake Of Caffeine
Well, expectant mothers who need their cup of coffee each morning just to get going will discover a rude awakening for their caffeine fix. This drug should be avoided while you’re pregnant. The fact that caffeine gives many of us a boost of energy should be cause to avoid it while pregnant.
Caffeine can affect the growth of your baby in the womb. It can cause stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight and miscarriage. Research has shown that very small amounts of caffeine don’t affect the baby, but since caffeine is in not only coffee, but tea, herbals, chocolate and other OTC drugs like Anacin and Excedrin, so it can be hard to just take a small amount.
Caffeine stimulates the baby’s heart rate, which is not good. It also can decrease the blood flow to the placenta and decreases the ability to absorb iron. Recommendations are to not exceed more than 200 milligrams and there are no alternatives.
10 Castor Oil
This is a vegetable oil that many people take to have a bowel movement or if they are experiencing an upset stomach. It helps to clean out the intestines. It is a stimulant laxative that causes your bowels to move. It also causes pregnant mothers to go into labor because it stimulates your uterus, and therefore, stimulates contractions.
Avoid taking this product during your entire pregnancy. You don’t want to go into early labor. Even if you are near or passed your due date, do not take this product. Let nature take its course. Do not force labor with this product at all. There are natural or regular activities you can do if you want to try and help your labor speed up somehow.
Physical exercise like cleaning the house or taking a walk will help. You can drink more water or juice or eat fiber rich foods if you need to have a bowel movement.
9 Advil Allergy & Congestion; Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold; Dristan Cold
Avoid taking these everyday medications that contain Chlorpheniramine. The main risk many doctors see with this OTC medication is that it makes you sleepy. That may not seem to be a high-risk, and it’s not considered a high-risk to some doctors, but causing sleepiness can mean being lethargic at times you don’t want or need to be.
If you’re driving and you’re sleepy, that can be dangerous. However, if you plan on taking this medication be sure to contact your doctor and get their approval first. Although the drug doesn’t seem to raise any risks or high-risks of malfunctions or deformities to your unborn baby, there have been studies that show low birth weight and possible birth defects.
At the least, it may cause your baby to be lethargic as well. It can be taken up to 36 weeks with caution and is not recommended after 36 weeks. Possible alternatives are claritin or Zyrtec.
Similar to aspirin, Ibuprofen is a regular medicine most people take at times in their life. Ibuprofen is used to combat headaches, aches and pains, allergies and other minor ailments. However pregnant women need to steer clear of this OTC while your baby is in the womb. Avoid taking Motrin and Advil products or anything that has Ibuprofen in it during your pregnancy.
Although some reports have shown that taking a very small dosage is not harmful, but should be taken under doctor’s approval. It’s best not to take it at all and an acetaminophen like Tylenol. Ibuprofen can cause miscarriages and premature closure of the ductus arteriosus. It is also not recommended for women trying to get pregnant as it may cause disruptions in the fertility process.
It’s also recommended that you don’t take ibuprofen products during the breastfeeding stage as well since it can produce harmful effects in your newborn.
This OTC medication is popular in Aleve, which is another popular drug many people take. Similar to Ibuprofen is should be avoided during the pregnancy, especially during the first and third trimesters.
Taking it early in your pregnancy can cause miscarriages and congenital heart disease, and taking it later in the third trimester can cause closure of the ductus arteriosus, low amniotic fluid levels, and other birth defects. Pregnant women have to take into consideration the entire nine months, that not only is their health at risk, but their unborn baby’s health is at high-risk.
It’s a delicate time for both mother and baby and you’re given the difficult responsibility of taking care of your baby’s health during these crucial months. It can be tempting to take medication you’re use to taking but there’s someone growing inside of you whose health is the utmost importance and whose entire body is developing and that chemicals can cause serious problems.
6 Phenylephrine And Pseudoephedrine
Cold and flu season can be a difficult time for everyone, especially pregnant women. But unlike everybody else, expectant mothers can not run to the drug store and buy some cold and flu medicine for relief.
There are some that contain pseudoephedrine2 like Advil Cold & Sinus; Claritin-D; Sudafed 12 Hour, and products containing phenylephrine like Alka-Seltzer Plus Day; Sudafed PE Pressure + Pain; Tylenol Cold Multi-symptom; Vicks Dayquil Cold and Flu Relief that are off limits.
Birth defects, miscarriages and other health issues can arise when the mother takes these medicines while pregnant. And oftentimes, the defects aren’t noticed until after the baby is born. To fight a cold, flu or allergy the natural way try drinking plenty of water and juices, but stay away from tea or caffeinated tea.
Use steam or vapor products to relieve congestion and try avoiding anything that can irritate your sinuses. Also, try avoiding contact with people who are sick.
5 Certain Medicinal Herbs
Herbs are not really medications but they are often taken in the place of medicine as an alternative treatment for pains, aches and other ailments. Although herbs can be taken as a good alternative to medicine for various reasons, they may not be good to take while pregnant. Since herbs don’t go through the same scrutiny as drugs, and may not have labels.
There are a list of herbs you should stay away from if pregnant, which includesangelica,kava kava, yohimbe, blue and black cohosh, ephedra, dong quai, borage oil, mugwort and pennyroyal. These are stimulant herbs which can increase the baby’s heart rate, blood pressure, miscarriages, premature birth, uterine contractions, early labor, and cause a number of birth defects.
Other herbs such as garlic, sage, ginger, rosemary and turmeric are safe to take if cooking in food but may not be as safe if taken by itself in doses.
If you suffer from migraines or severe headaches from time to time you may be familiar with this drug. It’s similar to ibuprofen and has similar ingredients in it that pregnant women should avoid. Just like ibuprofen and Naxproen, ketoprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) which is a stimulant that can cause increased heart rate in your unborn baby as well as miscarriages, heart defects, premature defects, and other birth defects.
If you experience constant or severe headaches and are use to taking this drug, try taking Tylenol. If you don’t want to take any medicine while pregnant, try placing a warm wet towel over your forehead and relaxing with your eyes closed for several minutes a day.
Clear your mind of everything. If you notice the headaches occur more frequently after a certain activity or time of day, try to avoid that activity and rest during that time of day.
Some pregnant women will battle acne during pregnancy or may have an issue with acne prior to becoming pregnant. If it happens because of pregnancy, try using soap or facial cleansers that may work or just let nature run its course. The acne will likely disappear after the baby arrives.
If acne is something you have often and it may get worse during pregnancy, avoid taking anything with this medicine in it. It’s used to treat severe acne and belongs to a group of drugs called retinoids that decreases facial oil. This ingredient is dangerous for your unborn baby. It causes serious and fatal birth defects, miscarriages and premature births.
It also is known to pass through the breast milk so should be avoided if you plan on breastfeeding your baby. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have been taking this medication. Usage should be immediately discontinued upon finding out you’re pregnant.
Many suffer from a host of issues that cause depression to overcome them at different times in their life, pregnant women are no exception. In fact, some pregnant women may experience depression while pregnant. It could be due to hormonal changes, circumstances, health or other reasons. To combat depression many will take an antidepressant.
However, like many other medicines, expectant mothers need to avoid taking this drug. Although most research is showing a low-risk to baby if the mother takes this drug, based on the ingredients in each medicine the chance of a birth defect can increase. Some are less safe than others. Some have had effects on the baby’s heart and caused heart defects.
Some babies may have a higher risk due to a higher risk of birth defects. Battling raging hormones and depression can be difficult, consult your doctor for alternatives if you or they feel the antidepressant may harm your child.
Although this is really not a medication it is a drug some use everyday to calm nerves. It’s well-known that nicotine is harmful to an unborn baby. This includes not only cigarettes but nicotine patches and gum.
Not only can nicotine produce harmful effects on the pregnant mother such as lung and breathing difficulty which can make labor more difficult, more susceptibility to colds and the flu because of a weakened immune system, but the carbon monoxide fills your baby’s lungs with poison and carries this poison through their bloodstream.
This can cause premature birth, low-weight birth, restriction of blood flow, organ damage, poor nutrition which results in a lack of growth and development. Find a way to stop smoking during pregnancy, chew gum, find a hobby, or simply think about the health of your baby. All these things can help you stop smoking, period, but at least for those nine months your child is developing.