Medicines during pregnancy

If you become ill during pregnancy, you may need to take medicine. But remember that some medicines must not be taken during pregnancy, including some non-prescription drugs and herbal remedies.

Never stop taking a medicine you habitually use without first consulting a doctor.

When you are pregnant, you must always tell the hospital staff what medicines you take. You should also tell the staff in the pharmacy when you buy over-the-counter products. Almost all medicines are absorbed into the placenta and can affect the baby, even though far from all of them are harmful. You should also be careful about taking natural remedies while pregnant.

Paracetamol for pain and fever
Avoid taking painkillers unnecessarily. If you have headache or pain in your back or joints, a rest or massage may be effective in relieving the pain. You can take headache tablets once in a while, but avoid ones that contain acetylsalicylic acid, such as Magnecyl and Treo.

Also avoid the type of painkillers known as COX inhibitors (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and Ipren.
Drugs based on paracetamol, such as Alvedon or Pamol, are considered safe for use during pregnancy. If you get a high fever, you can take an antipyretic such as Alvedon. But if the infection is not severe, try to simply rest and see if it passes.

Gastrointestinal medications during pregnancy
If you have problems related to your stomach or digestive system, first try resting, perhaps with a heat pad on your stomach. Massage or a warm bath can alleviate some types of stomach pain. If you have gas, it can help to walk around. Painkillers such as Alvedon may help as a last resort.
If you get heartburn despite avoiding fatty or spicy food, coffee and tea, there are non-prescription drugs available that are safe for use in pregnancy. Read more about pregnancy and heartburn.

Many women feel sick in early pregnancy. There are many home remedies and tips that you can try. If these don't help, you might need medication. Non-prescription drugs for travel sickness and nausea are available from the pharmacy. Ask which products are safe for use during pregnancy. You should ideally speak to your midwife before taking the medicine.

Don't stop taking your usual medicines
If you already take medicine regularly, for instance for asthma, allergy or depression, contact a doctor as soon as you find out you are pregnant. If you have asthma, it is important to continue taking your medication. However, some anti-allergy drugs are more suitable than others during pregnancy. Consult a doctor, or enquire at your pharmacy if you can't ask a doctor immediately. The same applies to other drugs such as antidepressants or tranquillisers. The doctor can suggest an alternative medication if your habitual one is unsuitable.

Antibiotics during pregnancy
It is not uncommon to get an infection that require treatment with antibiotics, such as sinus or bladder infections or an infected wound. But there are many different types of antibiotic. Ask your doctor to prescribe one that is suitable during pregnancy.

Natural medicines and vitamins during pregnancy
Do not take dietary supplements or natural medicines without first consulting your midwife or doctor. They are usually not as carefully tested as ordinary medicines. Avoid products containing ginseng or algae during pregnancy. If you take vitamin supplements, take care not to overdose, and check that they do not contain more than 1 milligram of vitamin A per daily dose.

Also avoid taking unnecessary medicines while breastfeeding
The recommendations above also apply when you are breastfeeding. Always tell the medical staff or pharmacist if you need to take medicine while breastfeeding. Many medicines, including natural products, pass into the breast milk.

Also see our 10 tips for healthy eating during pregnancy.

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