Being pregnant

Is it safe? - Health & medicine

All the answers to your most common pregnancy questions. Note: Be sure to check with your caregiver or pharmacist before taking medications.

By Today's Parent staff
Is it safe? - Health & medicine

Acne medications Steer clear from Accutane and Retinol, which contain vitamin A. (High amounts of vitamin A can cause certain birth defects.) Talk to your caregiver and a dermatologist about safe options.

Acupuncture Licensed acupuncturists know which points are safe when you’re expecting, and which aren’t. This treatment can often ease nausea and vomiting and can help you relax.

Allergy medication Women who suffered from allergies pre-pregnancy often say their symptoms worsen when they’re expecting. It’s best not to take any medications in the first trimester. If you need relief after, tests have been done on Benadryl (and others that contain diphenhydramine) showing it’s safe. Be aware that some of these drugs contain alcohol. Newer drugs, such as Claritin, haven’t been tested enough.

Antibiotics There are many that are safe all through your pregnancy, such as penicillin and erythromycin. Tetracylcine should be avoided; it is known to cause birth defects.

Antidepressants The Hospital for Sick Children’s Motherisk program in Toronto says your caregiver will weigh the effects of taking antidepressants against the potential risks associated with leaving depression untreated. Use in the last trimester has been linked to feeding problems and respiratory difficulties for the baby.

Antihistamines There are safe over-the-counter antihistamines you can take when expecting, such as medications containing chlorpheniramine or diphenhydramine. Talk to your caregiver.

ASA and NSAIDs Avoid acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), such as Aspirin, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).

Asthma medicines Consult your caregiver. If you have chronic asthma, you might be required to continue taking drugs to manage your condition.

Blood donations Giving blood reduces the oxygen that will get to your baby via your blood, so you shouldn’t donate when you’re expecting.

Blood-pressure medications There are several you can take (depending on what your physician recommends), but Health Canada says pregnant women should steer clear of ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors because they can increase the risk of birth defects in the first trimester.

Breastfeeding during pregnancy Pregnancy decreases milk production, but as long as you’re getting enough nutrients, staying hydrated and getting lots of calcium, breastfeeding your little one won’t hurt the baby.

Cough suppressants Over-the-counter cough syrups containing Dextromethorphan (DM), an active ingredient in many cough and cold medications, has been tested and shown to be safe.

Cold medications There are over-the-counter cold medications and decongestants that are considered safe for expectant moms such as Tylenol Cold & Flu and Actifed. Talk to your caregiver.

Dental cleaning You should definitely visit your dentist or hygienist when you’re expecting. Studies show that good oral health is very important in pregnancy; women with periodontitis (gum infections that spread into bone and other tissues) are at higher risk of preterm labour.

Dental X-rays It’s best to hold off until after the baby’s born. If you must have one, be sure you’re given a lead apron and the X-ray is clearly pointed away from your abdomen.

Flu vaccinations The Public Health Agency of Canada says pregnant women should definitely get a flu shot (in any trimester) to protect themselves and their babies from the virus.

Herbs The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) says ginger and peppermint can be used sparingly, but you should avoid these herbs because safety during pregnancy has not been established: St. John’s Wort, Echinacea, evening primrose oil, gingko and tea tree oil. They also advise steering clear of these herbs, which have been proven to be harmful to you and baby: ginseng, feverfew, black cohosh, dong quai, licorice (the herb) and juniper.

Laxatives Pregnant women can attest that constipation comes with the territory. The College of Family Physicians of Canada says the best way to get rid of constipation is to load up on fluids and fibre (such as bran and prunes). Fibre laxatives like Metamucil are safe, as are natural stool softeners.

Nasal sprays Pregnant women are often more congested and nasal sprays (saline is recommended) are considered safe. Limit use to bedtime.

Sex Go ahead and do it; sex is completely safe all through your pregnancy. Your caregiver will give you the green light unless you have placenta previa (where the placenta covers the cervix), you have a history of premature labour or birth or your water breaks.

Sleeping pills There hasn’t been a lot of research done, but there are reports that suggest benzodiazepines (such as Lorazepam and Valium) have been associated with birth defects.

Vision-correction surgery While there’s no research to suggest it isn’t safe for the baby, wait until after birth to get eye surgery such as LASIK because your prescription often changes during pregnancy (you can become more nearsighted or farsighted). Some doctors also prescribe mild sedation during surgery, which ends up in your bloodstream.

This article was originally published on Sep 20, 2002

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