Is taking medicine safe during pregnancy?

KEY POINTS

  • Tell your provider about any prescription medicine you take. You may need to stop taking a medicine or switch to one that’s safer during pregnancy. 

  • Talk to your health care provider before you take any medicine, supplement or herbal product. Some may cause problems during pregnancy. 

  • Don’t stop taking a prescription medicine without talking to your health care provider first.  

  • Make sure any provider who treats you with prescription medicine knows that you’re pregnant. 

  • If you take prescription medicine during pregnancy, some can cause problems for your baby, like premature birth, NAS and birth defects.  

What can I do to make sure medicines are safe for my baby?

Tell your provider if you take:

  • Prescription medicines. These are drugs your provider says you can take to treat a health condition. You need a prescription (order) from your provider to get them. Tell your provider about any prescription drugs you take, even if another provider prescribes it. You may need to stop taking a medicine or switch to one that's safer for pregnancy.
  • Over-the-counter medicine, like aspirin or cough syrup. You can buy these medicines without a prescription.
  • Herbal products or teas.
  • Supplements, like vitamins or any nutritional product.

Also, make sure to follow these safety guidelines:

  • If you take a prescription medicine, take it exactly as your provider tells you to. Don’t take more than your provider says you can take.
  • Don’t take medicine with alcohol or other drugs
  • Don’t use someone else’s prescription medicine.
  • Don’t start or stop taking a medicine without talking to your provider first. Even stopping some medicines can be harmful to you and your baby.
  • Make sure any provider who treats you with prescription medicine knows that you're pregnant. Your provider can help make sure that any medicine you take is safe for your baby.

Can I take prescription painkillers while I’m pregnant?  

Taking prescription painkillers called opioids during pregnancy can cause serious problems for your baby. Your baby can be exposed to them in the womb and go through withdrawal after birth. This is called neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS. Even if you use an opioid exactly like your provider says, it still may cause NAS for your baby.

Here's a list of prescription opioids and their brand names:

  • Buprenorphine (Belbuca®, Buprenex®, Butrans®, Probuphine®)
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl (Actiq®, Duragesic®, Sublimaze®)
  • Hydrocodone (Lorcet®, Lortab®, Norco®, Vicodin®)
  • Meperidine (Demerol®)
  • Methadone (Dolophine®, Methadose®)
  • Morphine (Astramorph®, Avinza®, Duramorph®, Roxanol®)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®)
  • Tramadol (ConZip®, Ryzolt®, Ultram®)

The illegal drug heroin is an opioid. Fentanyl and other prescription opioids often are made and sold illegally.

If you take an opioid, here’s what you can do:

  • Don’t stop taking any opioid until you talk to your provider. Stopping certain medicines can be harmful to you and your baby. Quitting suddenly (called cold turkey) can cause severe problems for your baby, including death.
  • Tell your provider if you take an opioid, even if another provider prescribes it.
  • If you go to a provider who prescribes you opioids, make sure she knows you’re pregnant.
  • Ask your provider about painkillers you can take instead of opioids.

 

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