Prescription Medications and Pregnancy

What About Nonprescription Medications and Pregnancy?

Prescription drugs are not the only medications you should be concerned about while pregnant. You must also consider the safety of nonprescription medications, such as over-the-counter (OTC) medications, herbal supplements, and vitamins. Just because a medication doesn't require a prescription doesn't mean it won't cause harm to your unborn child.
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all of the medications you take, including prescription medicines, OTCs, herbal supplements, and vitamins. It is important to keep in mind that substances such as caffeine and tobacco are also drugs that you should discuss with your healthcare provider.

Risk Versus Benefit

Each woman and each situation is different and unique. When deciding whether to use a certain medication during pregnancy, you and your healthcare provider need to discuss the risks and benefits of that particular product for your situation. Benefits are the good things a medication can do for you and your developing baby, while risks are ways the medication may harm your developing baby.
Sometimes a medication may be needed during pregnancy, like when a woman has a long-term health condition that requires treatment, such as seizures, diabetes, asthma, or depression. Not using a medicine you need may be more harmful to you and your growing baby than using the medication. Other times, using a medicine may be optional, such as when a pregnant woman gets a cold and may or may not decide to use drug to treat her symptoms.
There are also times when a medication can be changed to a safer option or may even be able to be stopped. In some situations, a medication may only need to be avoided during a particular period during pregnancy, like the first trimester when the baby's organ systems are forming. Remember, do not stop or change a drug on your own without discussing it with your healthcare provider first.
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