If you are on regular medication you should discuss these effects with your doctor before becoming pregnant. The decision to start, stop, continue or change a prescribed medicine before or during pregnancy should be made in consultation with the doctor. There may be times during pregnancy when using medicine is a choice. Some of the medicine choices you and your doctor make while you are pregnant may differ from the choices you make when you are not pregnant. For example, if you get a cold, you may decide to live with your stuffy nose instead of using the medicine you use when you are not pregnant.
Other times, using medicine is not a choice, it is essential for the effective treatment of the issue. Some women need medicine for a few days or a couple of weeks to treat a problem like a bladder infection or strep throat. Also, some women have a pregnancy problem that needs treatment with medicine.
Pregnant women are at increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTI) compared with non-pregnant women due to the anatomical and hormonal changes of pregnancy. Antibiotic treatment is usually empiric and therapy is tailored to the specific organisms once results from urine culture and sensitivities are available.
Paracetamol has been used by pregnant women for many years without any obvious harmful effects on the developing baby. For this reason, paracetamol is usually recommended as the first choice of painkiller for pregnant women. Although it is not possible to say that any medicine is absolutely safe to use in pregnancy, there is currently no good evidence that paracetamol will harm the baby. Paracetamol is sold both on its own and in combination with other medications, for example, in cold and flu remedies. It is important to make sure that the other medicines in combination products can be taken in pregnancy and that it is not taken more than the daily recommended dose of paracetamol.
No analgesic is without risk when used in pregnancy. The level of risk depends on the stage of pregnancy and the duration of analgesic consumption. Analgesic should not be taken unnecessarily and the use of high doses or prolonged exposure should be avoided.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, when used after 30 weeks of pregnancy, may increase the risk of pulmonary hypertension of the newborn. It is recommended that the use of these drugs during pregnancy be avoided unless the potential benefits outweigh the risks during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. Instead, ibuprofen would be the preferred agent, at the lowest dose for the shortest period.
The first-line therapy for heartburn and or reflux includes antacids or sucralfate. These may be used at any time during pregnancy though unlimited use of antacids during pregnancy is not recommended.
Vaginal candidiasis occurs frequently in pregnancy and severity may increase as the pregnancy progresses. Topical treatment is preferred to systemic treatment. Oral antifungal agents should be avoided in pregnancy as there may lead to congenital abnormalities.
Threadworm infestation is common in pregnancy and should be eradicated by rigorous attention to hygiene.
Medicines sold over the counter, including herbal supplements and vitamins, can cause problems during pregnancy. Pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen may be harmful to a foetus. Check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter drug.
A baby’s body and most internal organs are formed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It is mainly during this time that medicines are known to cause birth defects.