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Drugs And OTC Medicines During Pregnancy

5 min read

Medicines in pregnancy
Over the counter drugs are considered a bliss for those who cannot tolerate waiting in the clinics and find it working for them. But are you sure that these do not affect your baby?
Pregnancy is a phase wherein whatever you put in your mouth may have a direct or indirect affect on your baby. A tiny life is beginning to take shape inside you, so it is very natural of you to be extra careful while expecting. Though these medicines are your comfort when you do suffer from some minor ailment, what you must consider is that some of these OTC medications can actually harm your baby. That does not necessarily imply that you have to suffer, but being careful is a wise choice. If waiting at the doctor’s clinic for day to day ailments sounds exhausting to you, then the below guide will help you determine what to have and what to avoid when it comes to taking medicines while pregnant. Read on.

When You Are Unwell During Pregnancy..

It’s very common to feel unwell or counter heartburn, headache, constipation, flu etc during this period. Unless you are a doctor yourself, you would not know which medicines are safe for you while you are expecting. The best way is to clear this confusion by discussing some common ailments that you frequently have and have your doctor prescribe medicines for you.

OTC Medicines in the First Trimester

By far and large, women are advised to try and go without medications during the first trimester of their pregnancies. OTC medicines are not safe to be consumed during the entire pregnancy, especially so in the first trimester. This is because a fetus develops very rapidly during the first three months, and is equally at a
higher risk of vulnerability. In case you do suffer from some ailment, it would be best to consult your doctor before popping in a pill.

Below is a list of common discomforts during pregnancy and the safe OTC medicines for their relief
  1. Allergy: Benadryl, Cetrizine
    Tip:
    Wear masks during windy climate. Avoid dusting. Clear out from the place where cleaning is in progress to avoid pollens and dust particles that induce allergies
  2. Cold and Flu: Tylenol, Claritin (containing acetaminophen)
    medicines for cold and flu
    Tip:
    It is recommended to first try gargling with warm water and salt. Try to consume warm drinks. Get a flu shot if you are in the second and third trimester
  3. Sore throat: Halls, vicks lozenges
    Tip:
    Enjoy warm drinks, have mild ginger-lemon tea! Try gargling
  4. Constipation: Milk of magnesia, metamucil
    Tip:
    Drink plenty of fluids. Have a fibre-rich diet. Avoid laxatives as they may induce pre-term labour. You can exercise if the doctor is okay with it
  5. Pains & aches: Tylenol, Paracetamol
    Tip:
    A cold compress should be used first for relief. Take lots of rest and try to get some peaceful sleep. Nothing heals better than sleep
  6. Heartburn: Gaviscon, zantac, pepcid
    Tip:
    Eat smaller meals frequently. Avoid spicy foods. Opt for healthy options and refrain from too much caffeine and fried foods
  7. Rashes: Hydrocortisone cream, Caladryl lotion or cream
    Tip:
    Wear loose, light coloured cotton clothes which are airy and comfortable. Avoid silk and synthetics. Wash body and clothes with a gentle, non-fragrant cleanser
  8. Congestion: Cetrizine,
    Tip:
    Take steam. Add a teaspoon of Vicks to the Vapouriser and inhale the steam. Avoid decongestants containing psuedophedrine and phenylephrine as these affect blood flow to the placenta
  9. Fever: Paracetamol
    Tip:
    Do not try self-medicating of you have fever, especially if you are in the first trimester. Seek your doctor’s opinion, and give your body some well-deserved rest
  10. Nausea: Benadrylm Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine, Ginger tablets
    Tip:
    Try sniffing soap and avoid places with typical smells that may trigger nausea

fever during pregnancy
The first three months of pregnancy are very crucial for the development of the baby. Exposing the foetus to medicines may have unpleasant effects. OTC drugs are meant for general use and may not have been tested for safety with pregnant women. Therefore these may result in birth defects or cause miscarriage.

Caution Against OTC Medicines During Pregnancy
  • While buying medicines, make sure that the preparation does NOT contain alcohol and caffeine
  • Also avoid aspirin as large doses have been found to contribute towards birth abnormalities. Aspirin may be listed as acetylsalicylic acid, acetylsalicylate, sallicyclic acid or salicylate on the label
  • Experts advise against intake of medicines containing combined drugs such as ibuprofen and Naproxen
  • Consult with the doctor before administering any anti-fungal creams
  • Discuss with your obstetrician regarding any vitamin supplements. Large doses of Vitamin A can harm the baby
  • Always use medicines in prescribed doses, no matter how high the pain is!
  • Do not self-medicate antibiotics. Consult the doctor for any issue
  • Do not volunteer for flu shots, malaria shots or other viral vaccines without prior approval from the doctor
  • Be careful about the herb intake, be it for acne or soothing stomach, herbs may affect your unborn baby

During family planning visits or regular pregnancy checkups, take this opportunity to discuss the OTC medicines with your obstetrician and if she could suggest safe alternatives.
Headache during pregnancy
It is best to practice patience and keep away from drugs as much as possible. For instance, you may want to take a nap in case of headache and see if it’s better? Try to avoid medicines as much as possible. With medicines, the rule should be to ditch them unless it becomes absolutely necessary. This applies even to the medicines which have been labelled natural or herbal. It is important to know that even herbal supplements may not be safe during pregnancy.
The best precaution is to increase your immunity by consuming balanced diet, increase fluid intake, reducing caffeine and shunning alcohol/smoking. Apart from this, avoid stress and ensure plenty of sleep and food. Go for walks, stroll in sunshine and envelope yourself with positive energy and cleanliness. Say bye bye to medicines and welcome a healthy lifestyle and soon you will be welcoming a healthy baby to this world!

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