Home > Health & Wellness > Health Library > Medicines During Pregnancy
Doctors usually tell women to avoid medicines during pregnancy, if
possible, especially during the first 3 months. That is when a baby's organs
form. But sometimes you have to take medicine to treat a health problem, such
high blood pressure or
So first your doctor or midwife will
look at the risk. Is the risk of taking a medicine higher than the risk of not
treating your illness? If you or your baby would face worse problems without
treatment, then your doctor or midwife will prescribe medicine or
over-the-counter one. He or she will also look at
which medicine to give you. For example, some
antibiotics are safe for pregnant women. And some are
It can be hard to know if a medicine is safe for your baby. Most
medicines are not studied in pregnant women. That's because researchers worry about
how the medicines might affect the baby. But some medicines have been taken for
so long by so many women that doctors have a good idea of how safe they
In general, doctors say it is usually safe to take:
If you are planning a pregnancy, talk to your doctor or
midwife about any medicines you take, even over-the-counter
ones. Some of them may be safe to take while you're pregnant. But others may not be safe.
Your doctor or midwife may have you stop taking a medicine or may switch
you to another one. Some medicines that aren't safe in the first trimester may
be safe to use later in the pregnancy.
Some medicines are known to increase the chance of birth defects
or other problems. But sometimes there's more risk for the mother and her baby if she stops taking a medicine (such as one that
controls seizures) than if she keeps taking it. Talk to your doctor or midwife about any medicines you take if you
are thinking about having a baby or if you are pregnant.
Some of the medicines that increase the chances of birth defects
Talk to your doctor or midwife about any herbal supplements
that you take. Don't take any vitamins or herbal or other supplements
unless you talk with your doctor or midwife first.
Women who are trying to get pregnant and those who are pregnant
should take a multivitamin that has folic acid. Folic acid is most important before and in the
first few weeks of pregnancy, because it prevents some birth defects. You can
get folic acid in an over-the-counter multivitamin. Or you might get it in a multivitamin that
your doctor or midwife prescribes. Talk to your doctor or midwife
about which type of vitamin you should take. In some cases, doctors and
midwives prescribe extra iron or extra folic acid.
Other Works Consulted
Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). Teratology and medications that affect the fetus. In Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 312–333. New York: McGraw-Hill.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2015). FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA has reviewed possible risks of pain medicine use during pregnancy. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm429117.htm. Accessed March 24, 2015.
Yankowitz J (2008). Drugs in pregnancy. In RS Gibbs et al., eds., Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp. 122–151. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as ofJune 14, 2016
Current as of:
June 14, 2016
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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