Medicines and Pregnancy: 4 Tips to Help You Get the Facts

My first and only pregnancy was a very difficult one. I was on bed rest for over a month, and I went into premature labor. Sadly, my baby did not survive, but that experience motivated me to work to help other women have healthy pregnancies. For the past 15 years, I have made pregnancy outreach and education a major part of my work with women and their families. Currently, I lead FDA’s Resources for You and Your Baby initiative that provides pregnant women with health and safety information they can use to make informed choices about using medicines and medical devices.

Pregnant woman with hand on stomach.When I took over the initiative, I learned that 50% of all pregnant women take at least one medicine. Some of these women take medicines for chronic health problems like high blood pressure, asthma, or epilepsy. Other women take medicines before they realize they are pregnant. No matter the reason they need to take medicines, many women have questions about how the medicines will affect them and their babies.

Today, I want to share four tips on medication use during pregnancy to help you learn more about how prescription and over-the-counter medicines might affect you and your baby. Use these tips to talk with your health care provider about your medicines.
 

1. Ask questions

Some medicines are not safe to take when you are pregnant. Always talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before you start taking any medicines, herbs, or vitamins. Ask what medicines you should avoid during each trimester of your pregnancy.

If you are already taking medicine, don’t stop taking or change your medicines unless your health care provider says that it is OK. Ask if you will need to change your medicine during pregnancy.
 

2. Read the label

Check the drug label and other information you get with your medicine to learn about the possible risks for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The labeling tells you what is known about how the medicine might affect pregnant women. Your health care provider can help you decide if you should take the medicine.
 

3. Be smart online

Some websites say certain drugs are safe to take during pregnancy, but you should check with your health care provider first. Every woman’s body is different. A product that works for one person may not be safe for you.

Look to FDA, other government websites, or organizations like MotherToBaby for trustworthy information.
 

4. Report problems

Tell your health care provider about any problems you have with your medicine. Also, tell the FDA. You can report serious problems online or call to have a form sent to you.

Safe medication use is an important part of having a health pregnancy. These four tips don’t tell you everything you may want to know about medicines and pregnancy, but they can help you start the conversation with your health care provider. I encourage you to look to the FDA for more facts about your medicines. You can find information on a specific drug, and FDA’s pregnancy website has brochures and videos with other helpful tips for women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.

About the author

Kimberly A. Thomas

Kimberly A.Thomas, M.P.H., is the Director of Outreach and Communications for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Women’s Health.  She coordinates the office’s pregnancy outreach initiative.