Although mothers to be take many precautions in order to ensure the safety of their unborn child, it can be difficult to navigate the entire nine months without the use of any form of medication. For otherwise healthy mothers, it may be an easier task to undertake, while mothers with pre-existing conditions or complications during pregnancy may still be required to have some drugs in their system.
This also makes it vitally important to consult with a physician before making any alterations to existing medication protocols, as some necessity in certain situations does exist. This particularly important for mothers who:
- Have severe psychiatric disorders which require medication for control
- Have a seizure disorder or epilepsy
- Have a heart condition
- Suffer from high blood pressure which may be worsened during pregnancy
From this standpoint, it can also be necessary to consult with a doctor before making the decision to become pregnant, as there may be limitations on safety.
Beyond prescription drugs and over the counter remedies, pregnant women should also be aware that dietary supplement and herbal compounds can cause an equal threat to health and the wellbeing of the child. This can be further taken to include certain beverages and consumables that contain phenylalanine, as the additive can cause auto-immune disorders and severe allergies in the child once he or she is born.
Other substances that can be harmful even through contact include nicotine, either as cigarettes, patches, vapor, or gum, and any medication or ingestible that contains alcohol. Although the pregnant woman may not experience adverse effects from using skin lotions and topicals that contain isopropyl alcohol, it is necessary to remember that substances which are absorbed through the skin will enter into the bloodstream.
Since anything that is in the mother’s system will also pass into the amniotic fluid, it can also be important to evaluate the contents of basic health and beauty aids to reduce further risk to the child. Severe exposure to either rubbing or drinking alcohol can cause:
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Learning disabilities
- Developmental disabilities
- Other birth defects
For this reason, medications that may be administered in any form can still impact the health of the child.
Over the Counter Medications to Avoid
One of the most frequent areas where pregnant women can being to feel overwhelmed in finding relief during term is through searching over the counter medication that may be safe to use. Unfortunately, the basic rule of thumb does tend to be that if one is pregnant, then any medication can pose a threat to the child.
A major group of over the counter drugs that should be avoided entirely are NSAIDs. These include such products as:
Aspirin has long been cited as a medication to avoid during pregnancy, and should not be given to children who are younger than two or are suffering from a viral condition. The salicylic acid in aspirin can contribute the expression of a condition called Reye’s Syndrome, which while survivable, can cause considerable physical damage and lead to disability.
When a pregnant mother ingests aspirin, the unborn child will also receive the medication, and this can become a further risk if the mother has ever had chicken pox. As this virus stays within the system, even after recovery, the child may have some exposure, and this can further be exacerbated by the presence of aspirin.
Alternatives to pain relief for pregnant mother, such as NSAIDs, had been thought to be safer, although research is indicating that even these aspirin alternatives can lead to cases of:
- Leaning and developmental disabilities
- Severe allergies, including food and respiratory
- Behavioral issues
Another important over the counter medication that mother may want to consider, but should not, is pepto bismol. Bismuth salicylate actually contains an aspirin derivative that is intended to reduce gastro-intestinal inflammation in order to allow the coating action of the bismuth to take effect. Since aspirin is in the medication, it is not recommended as a remedy for morning sickness. However, since morning sickness is closely related to rapid fluctuations in blood sugar, eating a few saltines before bed and several upon waking in the morning can be a safe relief to discomfort.
Allergy medications should also be closely scrutinized, since these can contain both alcohol and harmful stimulants. This can also make it necessary to closely read labels for both name and generic brands, as differences in formulation can make a large impact on whether a doctor can consider the remedy for pregnant mothers. Some further ingredients to remain on the alert for include:
- Caffeine – found in everything from allergy medications to headache remedies, and should be avoided in all forms.
- Chlorpheniramine – common to cold and allergy medications.
- Brompheniramine – also present in cold and flu medications and many cough suppressants/decongestants
Prescription Medications to Avoid
The list of prescription medications that should be avoided during pregnancy is far greater than the list of those which are appropriate, and it is always best to consult a doctor before changing drug routines, regardless of the pregnancy. However, even with receiving the approval from a doctor to take a certain prescription, it can still be wise to ask questions before moving forwards.
Some important factors to consider:
- How long has the prescription been on the market/in use?
- What is the current track record for the medication during pregnancy?
- What possible side effects in general may be experienced by the mother?
- How comprehensive were the clinical trials for the drug?
Unfortunately, several prescription medications that had been approved in the past, specifically for pregnant mothers, have resulted in significantly negative outcomes. Thalidomide was initially approved to prevent miscarriage, but resulted in an immensely high number of sever birth defects. Another prescription medication that was prescribed to pregnant mothers in order to ease morning sickness has also resulted in poor fetal development. For this reason, even approved medication should be questioned and used with caution.