You’re Pregnant! What Medications Can I Take?
August 17, 2011
You’ve just found out you’re pregnant but won’t see your doctor for a few weeks: what medications can you keep taking in the meantime?
Prescription medications. I know you read, “Talk to your doctor,” everywhere and it sounds like a cop out on offering any kind of concrete advice, but really, here, talk to your doctor. Don’t stop taking anything cold turkey that you’ve been prescribed by your regular doctor – that could be more dangerous than keeping on for a few more days while you sort out a plan with your OB. Put together a list and call your obstetrician and walk through it with him/her or the on-call nurse as soon as possible. (If you haven’t settled on an OB yet, call your doctor and start there.)
A lot of drugs haven’t been tested thoroughly on pregnant women (who would volunteer???) so the FDA has put together a classification system for drugs taken during pregnancy. Safefetus.com has a quick reference table here, and Babyzone has a more detailed write-up here. You can look up your particular prescription’s classification on its web site but again, that’s information only, not a plan: consult with your doctor and decide on the right course with him/her.
Don’t panic in the meantime and assume you’ll have to discontinue all your prescriptions. (Well, birth control, yes!) I got very nervous about having to stop taking a mild sedative I take when we fly (I’m claustrophobic), but my OB said it was fine as long as I wasn’t taking it often. You won’t know until you ask. Your doctor might say it’s not OK in the first trimester. Or s/he can prescribe a substitute, like they did for the medication I take sometimes for migraines.
Happily, you might find that some of the health issues you had before you got pregnant will go away during pregnancy because you’re awash in hormones and that happy natural muscle relaxant, relaxin. I have a dislocated rib that’s often painful but I was pain-free during pregnancy. So the takeaway is, don’t quit anything the instant you find out you’re pregnant. Make a list, call your doctor and together figure out a plan.
Non-prescription medications. It was hard to know what was OK and what wasn’t because the recommendations vary within the same category. For instance, if your stomach is upset, it’s OK to take Maalox or Gaviscon, but Pepto Bismol is a a firm ‘no.’ So you have to look things up (or again, ask your doctor).
For me, the biggest shift was not being able to take aspirin (here’s why) or ibuprofen (here’s why) and shifting over to Tylenol for pretty much all pain relief. Since Tylenol has never done anything for me pain-wise, this was akin to recommending I take a glass of water. Thankfully, while pregnancy brought its own physical challenges, all those hormones kept a lot of regular ailments at bay.
My doctor’s web site has a basic list of approved OTC medications on their FAQ page that might tide you over to your first appointment. As with prescription medications, I’d make a list of what you have in your medicine cabinet that you are used to taking regularly and bring it along to run through with the nurse or your doctor.