Medications to Avoid While Pregnant

Mar 25, 2022 | Blog

Most people know pregnant women need to avoid things like alcohol and raw fish but there are also many different types of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications to avoid while pregnant. Some medications can cause birth defects and in extreme cases, death. You should ask your doctor before taking any medication or vitamin while pregnant but in this blog, we’re highlighting a few that should always be avoided.

OTC Medications to Avoid

There are some meds lurking in your medicine cabinet that should not be taken while pregnant:

  • Pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen. Acetaminophen is the safest OTC medication to take to relieve pain.
  • Bismuth subsalicylate, which is commonly known as Pepto-Bismol.
  • Phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine, which are decongestants and guaifenesin, which is common in cough and cold medicine. These should specifically be avoided during the first trimester when the baby’s organs are forming.

Prescription Medications to Avoid

If you take daily prescription medications, you should speak with your doctor before trying to get pregnant. Some medications should be stopped before even conceiving. Pregnant women should avoid the following prescription medications:

  • The prescription acne medication isotretinoin should not be taken by women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant.
  • ACE inhibitors, such as benazepril and lisinopril. These can dangerously lower blood pressure.
  • While penicillin is typically safe for pregnant women, other antibiotics such as doxycycline and tetracycline are not.
  • Warfarin, which helps prevent blood clots by thinning the blood, is not recommended while pregnant.
  • Lithium, which is commonly used to treat bipolar disorder.
  • Alprazolam, diazepam, clonazepam, lorazepam and some other medicines used to treat anxiety. Also, paroxetine, which is used to treat depression and other conditions.
  • Most prescription pain medications, including codeine, are not recommended while pregnant as they can lead to withdrawal symptoms in newborns.
  • “Statin” drugs such as atorvastatin, lovastatin and pravastatin, which are used to lower cholesterol.

Herbal Supplements and Vitamins

While prenatal vitamins and things like folic acid, Vitamin D and iron are highly encouraged, not all vitamins and herbal supplements are safe to take while pregnant. You should consult with your doctor before taking anything they have not prescribed to you.

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