Antibiotics During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?

5 min read

Written by Team Being The Parent

Team Being The Parent

We support parents through the journey of Pregnancy & Parenthood with our insightful and well curated content.

Antibiotics in Pregnancy
Once you get a positive urine test, you realize that a lot of things have to be kept in mind. You will notice many changes occurring in your body, and you will be told many do’s and don’ts to ensure the wellness of the baby. Antibiotics also belong to the long list of don’ts of pregnancy time. Here, is taking the Antibiotics during Pregnancy period is it safe or not.
What Are Antibiotics?
Why I Need Antibiotics during Pregnancy?
Is It Safe To Take Antibiotics During Pregnancy?
Antibiotics in First Trimester
Antibiotics in the second trimester
Classification Of Antibiotics
Most Common Infections During Pregnancy
Antibiotics That Should Be Strictly Avoid During Pregnancy
Precautions When Taking Antibiotics During Pregnancy
Birth Defects Caused By Antibiotics during Pregnancy
Safe Antibiotics For Pregnancy

What Are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are simply medicines that are used to treat some bacterial, fungal, or viral infections. Though the medications that are used to treat fungal infections are called antifungals, and likewise medicines that fight viruses are known as antivirals, in the same manner, medicines that fight with bacterial are known as antibacterial, on a larger note, collectively they are referred to as antibiotics.

Why I Need Antibiotics during Pregnancy?

The pregnancy period rolls some major changes in your body. Some of the changes can lead to the onset of infections, and you might have to take antibiotics during pregnancy to treat the infections at that period. You may ignore the common cough and cold or symptoms of a headache also, but if the infection is spreading, consult a doctor, and a doctor may put you on antibiotics.

Is It Safe To Take Antibiotics During Pregnancy?

So you have an infection that may need treatment. And the doctor prescribes a course of antibiotics. The immediate question that will strike your mind is that how safe is the use of antibiotics in pregnancy time?
Well, it depends. Some of the antibiotics are quite safe and can be easily taken during pregnancy time. At the same time, some are lethal for the baby, and many medicines are intermediate between the two extreme sides. The last category of antibiotics is not safe for use in pregnancy, as it can cause potential risk to the mother as well as the newborn baby too.
antibiotics during pregnancy

Antibiotics in First Trimester

The first trimester is a crucial one – on one side, the pregnancy hormones are running high, and on the other hand, the baby is experiencing rapid development in the form of organs. It is for this reason that pregnant women have advised the most care during the first trimester, and it comes as no surprise that antibiotics would be prescribed only if very, very necessary cases only.
Sometimes when you fall ill, there is no escape than taking antibiotics in spite of its known potential risks. It is because leaving the disease untreated is more dangerous for the mother and the baby than the threats posed to the baby by using antibiotics. Another important thing is that the safety of a medicine is also dependent upon the other important factors such as the duration of its intake, its quantity or dosage and which trimester of pregnancy you are at present also considered.

Antibiotics in the second trimester:

Giving antibiotics like (macrolides or clindamycin) during the second trimester of pregnancy. Pregnant women at risk of preterm births can lower it. But the recent research also says that giving metronidazole alone in the second trimester is linked with a higher risk of preterm birth.

Classification Of Antibiotics

Nowadays, a variety of antibiotics are available in the market. However, some commonly used ones are cephalosporins (cephalexin), erythromycin, and penicillins (ampicillin, amoxicillin,etc.). The below classification will help understand the effects of antibiotics on pregnancy period:

  • Category A: These are known to cause either nil or remote harm to the mother and the baby and are safe in pregnancy
  • Category B: No known studies on pregnant women, but may have been found to have some adverse effects on animals. Most safe antibiotics are placed under this shelf
  • Category C: Drugs under this category can be given to a pregnant woman only if the benefits outweigh the risks
  • Category D: Given under extreme, threatening conditions positive evidence of risk on the human fetus
  • Category X: Not to be administered to pregnant women in any case, these drugs have been associated with fetal abnormalities


Most Common Infections During Pregnancy

Here are the two common conditions faced during pregnancy, requiring the usage of antibiotics.

Vaginal Infections in Pregnancy and Antibiotics

Earlier metronidazole (a drug used for curing vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis) was considered to cause birth issues. But recent research has disapproved of the wrong notion. So, metronidazole is regarded as a safe drug and is used for treating vaginal infections in pregnancy time.

Pregnancy UTI Antibiotics

Urinary tract infection is quite a common condition encountered in pregnancy women. Your doctor prescribes nitrofurantoin (Macrobid). The drug can be taken as long as the pregnancy has not reached 36 weeks. When your 36th week has started to avoid taking antibiotics as it can adversely affect baby’s red blood cells.
Trimethoprim (trade name Bactrim and Septa) is also used to cure urinary tract infections, but its use in pregnancy is contraindicated. It interferes with folic acid absorption and can cause neural tube defects in the newborn baby.

Antibiotics That Should Be Strictly Avoid During Pregnancy

Unsafe antibiotics
Antibiotics that should be strictly avoided during pregnancy time altogether are:

  • Streptomycin is used in treating tuberculosis. If used in pregnancy, it can lead to hearing loss in the newborn baby
  • Tetracycline, minocycline, doxycycline or oxytetracycline these are used for curing acne, and respiratory ailments. But if used in pregnancy, can cause discoloration of the baby’s teeth

The below antibiotics are also classified under ‘unsafe antibiotics for pregnant women during pregnancy:

  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Bactrim
  • Doxycycline
  • Furadantin
  • Macrobid
  • Macrodantin
  • Minocycline
  • Tetracycline


Precautions When Taking Antibiotics During Pregnancy

Here are some useful safety tips for ensuring the health of the mother as well as the baby at the pregnancy:

  • Never make the folly of treating the viral infection with antibiotics for two reasons. First, the antibiotics will not cure the infection, and second, its use will render you antibiotic resistant so when you need antibiotics, they won’t be effective
  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet
  • Eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C-the immunity enhancing vitamin
  • Maintain good personal hygiene to keep infections at bay
  • Avoid using other’s towels or toilets. This prevents the transmission of many infections from it


Birth Defects Caused By Antibiotics During Pregnancy

Antibiotics can cause life-threatening severe birth issues in babies. Those defeats are mention below:

  • Anencephaly (a lethal malformation of brain and skull)
  • Transverse limb deficiency
  • Choanal atresia (nasal passage blockage)
  • Eye defects
  • Diaphragmatic hernia
  • Cleft palate
  • Congenital heart defects


Safe Antibiotics For Pregnancy

Below is a list of antibiotics that are considered safe and can be used in pregnancy, if the need arises for pregnant women:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Ampicillin
  • Penicillin
  • Cephalexin
  • Clindamycin
  • Erythromycin
  • Nitrofurantoin

**Please seek your doctor’s advice before taking any antibiotics during pregnancy**
Antibiotics during pregnancy, whether safe or not safe, should be used when prescribed by a doctor. While finding a doctor’s advice, make sure to inform him/her about your pregnancy and also ask about the probable side effects of the drug. Do not hesitate to ask about the antibiotics being advised to you by the doctor. Better to clarify each and everything clearly from the doctor at this time. After all, the health of your baby is under question!

Team Being The Parent,

We support parents through the journey of Pregnancy & Parenthood with our insightful and well curated content.Read more.

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