Women

Your Pregnancy After 35 : Your Current Medical Condition and Medications (part 3) - Nonprescription Medications

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Thyroid Medication

You need to continue taking thyroid medication throughout pregnancy. Thyroid hormone is made in the thyroid gland, which is found in the neck. It affects your entire body and is important to your metabolism. Thyroid hormone can affect your ability to get pregnant.

Thyroxin (medication for a low-thyroid or hypothyroid condition) can be taken safely during pregnancy. Propylthiouracil (medication for a high-thyroid or hyperthyroid condition) passes to the baby; you will probably be given the lowest amount possible during pregnancy.

Skin-Care Medications

Accutane (isotretinoin) is a common acne treatment. Do not take it if you are pregnant! A woman taking Accutane during the first trimester of pregnancy is at greater risk of miscarriage and birth defects in baby.

Retin-A (tretinoin) is a medication used to relieve minor wrinkling in the facial area. We don’t know its effects on the fetus, so it’s probably best to avoid Retin-A during pregnancy.

Occasionally steroid cream is prescribed for a skin condition. Before using it during pregnancy, discuss it with your healthcare provider. You may be able to use a safer preparation.

Tetracycline, an antibiotic, is often prescribed for skin problems. During pregnancy, avoid all tetracycline! Use of the drug during pregnancy can cause discoloration of your baby’s permanent teeth later in life (one of the reasons tetracyclines should not be prescribed for children under age 8).

Other Prescription Medications

Some medications, such as Valium, Librium and Tranxene, are safe to use during pregnancy but should be prescribed only if absolutely necessary. As with any substance, don’t take anything without consulting your healthcare provider.

If you have a headache bad enough to be considered a migraine, call your healthcare provider before you take anything for it. Before pregnancy, you may have been taking Imitrex for migraines; it is given by injection or in pill form. Avoid it during pregnancy; we do not know yet whether it is safe.

Common medications used for blood clots or phlebitis, called anticoagulants, are heparin and Coumadin. Heparin doesn’t cross the placenta, so it is safe to use during pregnancy. It’s administered by injection or I.V. Don’t use Coumadin during pregnancy because it may cause significant problems in the fetus or newborn.

Before you take a medication for a common malady, such as a headache or indigestion, try a nonmedication approach. For example, you might treat a headache with a cold compress or by resting in a dark room. Prevent indigestion by avoiding foods that trigger it, eating smaller meals and eating slowly.

Many asthma medications are OK to use during pregnancy. Inhalers, such as Proventil, are safe. For an asthma attack, your healthcare provider may prescribe prednisone; it is approved for use during pregnancy. Primatene Mist is not recommended.

Medicines to treat anemia can be important during pregnancy and are safe to use. These medications contain iron, which may cause side effects such as constipation, nausea or upset stomach.

Pregnancy is not the time to use any type of diet pill. Avoid prescription diet pills during pregnancy because they have not been proved safe. If you’re taking diet pills when you find out you’re pregnant, stop taking them immediately!

Nonprescription Medications

Many people, not just pregnant women, hold the false belief that medications they can buy without a prescription (over-the-counter medicine) are harmless. Nothing could be further from the truth. Carelessness with over-the-counter preparations could harm you and your developing baby.

Use caution when you take any over-the-counter (OTC) medication during pregnancy. Many OTCs contain aspirin, caffeine, alcohol or phenacetin, all of which should be avoided during pregnancy. For example, some OTC antidiarrheal medications contain aspirin. Cough syrups may contain as much as 25% alcohol (that’s 50 proof!).

Use medications that contain ibuprofen with care; brand-name ibuprofen medications include Advil, Motrin and Rufen. Avoid Aleve (naprosyn) and Orudis (ketoprofen) until we know more about their safety during pregnancy. Read package labels, and talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking anything.

Category-C Medications

Medical experts believe category-C medications are safe to use during pregnancy. If you use any of these medications, check with your healthcare provider about continuing to use them. He or she will determine whether you should use the medication during pregnancy. Some Category-C medications you may use include acetaminophen, antacids, benzoyl peroxide, beta-adrenergic antagonists, cephalosporins, chlorpromazine, clindamycin, codeine (short term), corticosteroids, cotrimoxazole, cough lozenges, cromolyn, dextromethorphan, dimenhydrinate, diphenhydramine, doxylamine plus pyridoxine, erythromycin, fluoxetine, haloperidol, hydralazine, ipratropium, methyldopa, nitrofurantoin, penicillin, propylthiouracil. rantidine and tricyclic antidepressants.

Avoid cold remedies that contain iodine. It can cause serious thyroid problems in baby. If you regularly take Airborne to prevent colds when you aren’t pregnant, it may be a good idea to skip it during pregnancy. It hasn’t been tested on pregnant women. Be careful with antacids—they can interfere with iron absorption.

You may become constipated at some point during pregnancy and need a laxative. If you find a laxative is necessary for more than 2 or 3 days, contact your healthcare provider. He or she may advise you to make dietary changes to help with the problem.

Some medications for diarrhea are safe during pregnancy. Imodium is OK to use, but most healthcare providers recommend avoiding the pink bismuth-type preparations during pregnancy. If you have bloody diarrhea or diarrhea that lasts longer than a few days, contact your healthcare provider.

Don’t overuse any product during pregnancy. You can get too much of a good thing. Your healthcare provider will not be angry or upset if you call the office with a question about a medication. It’s much easier to answer a question and solve a potential problem about a medication before you take it.

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