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Over-the-counter drugs that you should avoid during pregnancy

Pregnant women get upset stomachs and headaches just like everyone else. For this reason, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a majority of them have and continue to use over-the-counter medicines. Believe it or not, but independent studies have even gone on to suggest that women are more likely to use OTC medicines for things like cough and cold during pregnancy.

The thing with OTC drugs is that many of them are safe to use during pregnancy. However, there are a few really ‘surprising’ ones that can cause severe harm to you and your developing baby too. For this reason, it is extremely important for you to talk to your doctor before taking any medications at all – irrespective of whether they are OTC, herbal or even prescription.

Apart from all that, there is also the fact that certain vague symptoms that you wouldn’t think twice about can indicate grave pregnancy-related complications. For this reason, prior to taking OTC drugs, you should consider what other medicines you are taking and get in touch with your doctor before taking any others. Remember, even the safest of medicines can prove hazardous when they interact with others in pregnancy. With that, here’s a list of certain OTC drugs that you need to avoid during pregnancy:

7 Ibuprofen

This one is a surprise, right? I mean, who would think that an OTC medicine like Ibuprofen can be unsafe during pregnancy? But the fact of the matter is that taking Ibuprofen while pregnant is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and doctors suggest that you avoid using it completely.

Now if you are wondering what harm this supposedly harmless medicine can cause, well, then let me tell you that even taking a small dose of this particular painkiller early in your pregnancy has the potential to DOUBLE your risk of having a miscarriage. This particular problem with the drug has been acknowledged by several research studies. Findings such as these have played an immense role in making medical experts advice pregnant women to stay as far away from using Ibuprofen during pregnancy as possible. Instead, if you are in need of a painkiller, it is best for you to use Paracetamol instead. If truth be told, this particular reason is more than enough for a pregnant woman to avoid taking Ibuprofen no matter how much pain she is in. The fact that this particular painkiller threatens to double your risk of having a miscarriage will probably frighten most mums to the core. So, to guarantee your developing baby’s safety, avoid using Ibuprofen not just in the first few weeks of your pregnancy, but all through it if possible.

Avoid NSAIDs in general

Research studies have shown that the class of medicines called NSAIDs or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs in general, like Naproxen, Ibuprofen and Diclofenac can increase your chances of having a miscarriage particularly when taken in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Hence, do not use these OTC drugs for any reason at all when pregnant.

6 Aspirin

This one is definitely going to surprise all of you too considering how harmless we all consider a medicine like Aspirin to be. But like I mentioned before, there are certain medicines that have such severe side-effects that it is best for you to stay away from their utilization when you’re expecting your baby. Although doctors at times recommend pregnant women to take baby aspiring to lower their risk of certain pregnancy related complications, it is best for you to avoid taking this medicine all through your pregnancy – particularly without discussing it with your doctor.

Why is that so? Surely a simple medicine like Aspirin can’t be that bad, right? Well, the fact of the matter is that several studies have linked the utilization of Aspirin with various pregnancy related complications. To begin with, certain studies focused on the safety of using Aspirin during pregnancy found out that if taken in the first few weeks of pregnancy, it has the potential to increase a woman’s chance of having a miscarriage. Apart from that, other research studies have also shown that taking aspirin during pregnancy has the tendency to increase the risk of a placental abruption and may affect your baby’s development.

Avoid Aspirin all through your pregnancy

Yes, just a single dose of aspirin will not prove harmful for you or your baby, but if you take it regularly, there is a good chance that it will cause problems for the two of you. Hence, just avoid taking aspirin during this time to ensure yours and your precious angel’s safety. 

5 Sudafed

Sudafed is basically a decongestant, and like most of them, its utilization is rather contraindicated during pregnancy – particularly in the first trimester. The reason why it should specifically be avoided during the first trimester is because this is the time when the risk of developing physical malformations is at its peak in the fetus as it continues to achieve basic physical developments. This medicine should particularly be avoided by hypertensive women as it is known to increase the blood pressure.

Studies have shown that the blood vessel constriction properties possessed by Sudafed have the potential to slow down the uterine blood flow. This, in general, can prove to be disastrous for your developing baby and adds to the reasons why you should avoid its utilization all through your pregnancy.Apart from that, there are several birth defects that can be caused by taking Sudafed while pregnant. For instance, it has proven to trigger small intestinal atresia and gastroschisis in a majority of babies whose mothers took Sudafed while carrying them.

Other studies

Another research study showed that babies whose mothers take Sudafed during pregnancy tend to have a 3.2% increase in their chances of suffering from gastrochisis upon delivery. So to ensure your baby’s health, stay away from this OTC drug when pregnant.   

4 Lomotil

Just so you know, Lomotil is a combination anti-diarrheal medication that consists of diphenoxylate and atropine. Apart from that, it is also an anticholinergic that is prescribed for the treatment of diarrhea. On the whole, this medicine is available at pharmacies in its generic form. It has multiple side-effects that include fatigue, dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, restlessness, headache, dry mouth, nausea and loss of appetite etc. Although the frequency to which one experiences these side-effects may vary from person to person.

When it comes to taking Lomotil during pregnancy, it is highly recommended by experts to avert from its utilization unless the benefits that it has to offer outweigh the risks. If this isn’t so, it is best for pregnant women to avoid taking Lomotil all through their pregnancy. Also, if you get pregnant while taking Lomotil, then experts suggest that you should inform your doctor about it right away. Why is that so? Well, it’s because the overall safety of taking this medicine during pregnancy has not been established by research studies as of yet. However, the medicine has been categorized as a Class D drug and is believed to pose risk to the overall health of the mother as well as her developing baby.

Do not take Lomotil while breastfeeding too

It is best for you to avoid taking Lomotil while breastfeeding as well. This is because it can pass on to your baby through your milk, and its safety has not been established as of yet. If there is a need for you to take Lomotil, then you should get in touch with your doctor first.

3 Flagyl

During pregnancy, it is of utmost importance for you, as a pregnant woman, to be careful about the medications that you take. Before taking any medications at all, it is best for you to get in touch with your doctor and find out about its safety as well as the contraindications that it may cause during pregnancy. This holds true for the very commonly used OTC medicine named Flagyl too.

Although Flagyl (Metronidazole) is prescribed by doctors for the treatment of trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis in women, it is highly recommended for you to avert from the utilization of this OTC medicine during pregnancy. The reason for this is that Flagyl is known to cross the placenta all through gestation and its effects on the developing fetus have not been established through proper scientific research as of yet.

A major reason why health care experts will stop you from using Flagyl while pregnant is because its utilization during pregnancy has long remained on the controversial end. There are also certain old case reports which describe three cases of midline facial defects, which adds to the reasons why you need to avert from taking Flagyl when expecting your baby.

Avoid it when breastfeeding as well

Most OTC medicines get excreted into breast milk in small amounts (less than 5%), which makes them safe for use when breastfeeding your baby. However, research shows that Flagyl gets excreted by a full 20% into breast milk, which is why you should not take it when breastfeeding. If there is a dire need for you to take Flagyl, then speak with your doctor first and see if there are any safe alternatives that you can use.

2 Pepto-bismol

Pepto-Bismol is the brand name of a medicine called Bismuth. This particular OTC medicine is used for the treatment of problems of the digestive system and intestinal tract. It is particularly prescribed for acid reflux, diarrhea and upset stomach. Apart from that, this OTC drug is known to have antibacterial properties and has proved to treat a stomach infection called Helicobacter Pylori.

Now, when it comes to pregnancy, all medications have been labeled with letter A, B, C, D and X. Medicines that have been labeled Class A have proven to present no danger to either the expectant mother or her developing baby and are safe to use. Class B medications on the other hand are generally safe. However, Class C drugs are considered mostly safe, but it is best for pregnant women to avert from their utilization. As for Class D medicines, these present great risk and should not be taken, whereas class X medicines are a complete no-no. In terms of Pepto-Bismol, it has been labeled a class C medicine for the first trimester and D for the second and third trimester. For this reason, it is best for pregnant women to refrain from taking it.

Its effects

When used in late pregnancy, Pepto-Bismol has the potential to result in adverse effects on the baby including premature closure of the ductus arteriosus. For reasons such as these, it is best for pregnant women to refrain from using Pepto-Bismol. Apart from that, it should also be avoided while breastfeeding your baby as the drug is known to excrete into breast milk.

1 Tavegil

Tavegil is an OTC medicine that contains the active ingredient Clemastine. The medicine is basically a sedating antihistamine and works by averting the actions of histamine. Just so you know, histamine is a substance that our bodies produce as part of their defense mechanism. The substance is stored in mast cells in just about all tissues of our bodies. When our bodies start reacting to foreign substances like dust mites or pet fur etc., these cells get stimulated and start releasing histamine.

Now, the reason why you need to avoid taking Tavegil during pregnancy is because its safety for pregnant women has not been established as of yet. Tavegil’s safety is still undetermined due to the lack of scientific research over its possible effects on pregnant women and their developing babies. This is why doctors refrain from prescribing Tavegil to expecting mothers just so they don’t suffer from any unanticipated reactions. It should particularly be ignored during the first and third trimesters. In case it is of utmost importance for you to take this OTC medicine, it is highly recommended for you to seek medical advice from your doctor and see if any alternates are available.

Avoid Tavegil while breast feeding

Unless the potential benefits offered by Tavegil outweigh its risks, it is best for you to avoid taking it when breastfeeding your baby. This is because the medicine may pass into breast milk and its safety for newborn babies has not been established as of yet. So, to ensure your baby’s health and well-being, refrain from using it till the time that you stop breastfeeding.

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