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Medicines to Avoid During Your Pregnancy

When youíre pregnant, you have to be aware of everything you eat or drink, including medications and herbal supplements, both prescription and over-the-counter. There are very few things that wonít cross across the placenta and affect your baby, so itís important to understand what youíre taking.

Itís especially important that you avoid any medications that arenít absolutely essentially during the first 8 to 10 weeks of your pregnancy. This is the time when your baby's brain, heart, and lungs are developing Ė medication interactions could lead to defects in these areas.

And while there are no medications which are 100 percent safe for every person, there are certain people for whom the benefits of a particular medication outweigh any possible side effects. For example, a type I diabetic needs to take synthetic insulin during pregnancy, regardless of what interactions may occur.

In addition, if youíre on medication for an underactive thyroid, asthma or depression, your doctor will generally have you continue those medications throughout your pregnancy, although you may be switched to a medication thatís considered safer. In the case of these diseases, the potential risk to the mother and child of discontinuing medication is far greater than the potential risk of continuing the medication.

However, there are a number of conditions for which you might have ordinarily used over-the-counter medication that you can manage in more natural ways. For example, few women get through their entire pregnancy without catching a cold. The best treatment is rest and extra fluids, while a cool mist vaporizer can help loosen mucus and relieve congestion.

If you do need medication while pregnant, you want to take the smallest dose for the least possible time to still be effective. Follow all dosing directions provided by your doctor Ė for example, some medications should be taken with food, others on an empty stomach. Take each medication with a full glass of water Ė if you take a sip of water before taking your medication, it may be easier to swallow. Make sure your doctor knows youíre pregnant, and if you have any questions about a medication's safety, talk with your obstetrician or pharmacist.

Constipation is another common complaint during pregnancy. Generally, the stool softener Colace (Docusate) is safe during pregnancy, as is Metamucil. Donít use mineral oil for constipation, and make sure youíre eating enough fiber and drinking enough liquids to help resolve the problem naturally.

If you have a headache, itís usually considered safe to take acetaminophen (Tylenol), but donít take aspirin unless your doctor specifically tells you to do so. Also avoid products containing ibuprofen, including Advil, Motrin and Aleve. Any headache thatís severe or lasts more than 24 hours should be reported to your doctor immediately. In addition, you should be especially careful to avoid any products containing aspirin during the last three months of your pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Heartburn is another common complaint during pregnancy. If youíre experiencing heartburn, try eating smaller meals, remaining upright after eating and avoid foods that seem to trigger heartburn. Donít use baking soda or Pepto Bismol Ė instead, chew a few almonds, a common remedy recommended by midwives. The use of over-the-counter antacids that contain calcium, like Tums, is generally considered safe.

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