Medicine and Pregnancy
Are you pregnant and taking medicines? You are not alone. Many women need to take medicines when they are pregnant. There are about six million pregnancies in the U.S. each year, and 50% of pregnant women say that they take at least one medicine. Some women take medicines for health problems, like diabetes, morning sickness or high blood pressure that can start or get worse when a woman is pregnant. Others take medicines before they realize they are pregnant.
Pregnancy can be an exciting time. However, this time can also make you feel uneasy if you are not sure how your medicines will affect your baby. Not all medicines are safe to take when you are pregnant. Even headache or pain medicine may not be safe during certain times in your pregnancy.
Here are tips to help you learn more about how prescription and over-the-counter medicines might affect you and your baby.
Bonus Tip: Help spread the word about pregnancy safety.
Always talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before you take any medicines, herbs, or vitamins. Don't stop taking your medicines until your healthcare provider says that it is OK.
Use these questions:
- Will I need to change my medicines if I want to get pregnant? Before you get pregnant, work with your healthcare provider to make a plan to help you safely use your medicines.
- How might this medicine affect my baby? Ask about the benefits and risks for you and your baby.
- What medicines and herbs should I avoid? Some drugs can harm your baby during different stages of your pregnancy. At these times, your healthcare provider may have you take something else.
- Will I need to take more or less of my medicine? Your heart and kidneys work harder when you are pregnant. This makes medicines pass through your body faster than usual.
- Can I keep taking this medicine when I start breastfeeding? Some drugs can get into your breast milk and affect your baby.
- What kind of vitamins should I take? Ask about special vitamins for pregnant women called pre-natal vitamins.
Some dietary supplements may have too much or too little of the vitamins that you need. Talk to your healthcare provider about what kind of pre-natal vitamins you should take.
What is folic acid? Folic acid helps to prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain or spine. Ask about how much folic acid you should take before you become pregnant and through the first part of your pregnancy.
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 drugs might affect pregnant women. Your healthcare provider can help you decide if you should take the medicine.
New Prescription Drug Information
The prescription drug labels are changing. The new labels will replace the old A, B, C, D and X categories with more helpful information about a medicine's risks. The labels will also have more information on whether the medicine gets into breast milk and how it can possibly affect the baby.
Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about the information you get online. Some websites say certain drugs are safe to take during pregnancy, but you should check with your healthcare provider first. Every woman's body is different. It may not be safe for you.
- Do not trust that a product is safe just because it says "natural."
- Check with your healthcare provider before you use a product that you heard about in a chat room or group.
- CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - Treating for Two: Medicine and Pregnancy
- March of Dimes
First, tell your healthcare provider about any problems you have with your medicine. Also, tell FDA about any serious problems you have after taking a medicine.
- Call 1-800-FDA-1088 to get a reporting form sent to you by mail.
- Report problems online.
What to Report to FDA
You should report problems like serious side effects, product quality problems and product use errors. Report problems with these products:
- human drugs
- medical devices
- blood products and other biologics (except vaccines)
- medical foods
Learn more about reporting problems to FDA.
Sign Up for a Pregnancy Registry
Pregnancy Exposure Registries are research studies that get information from women who take prescription medicines or get a vaccine during pregnancy. Pregnancy registries help women and their doctors learn more about how medicines can be safely used during pregnancy.
- Help other pregnant women by sharing your experiences with medicines.
- You will not be asked to take any new medicines.
- You will provide information about your health and your baby's health.
FDA does not run pregnancy registries, but it keeps a list of registries. See if there is a registry for your medicine.
Pregnancy Social Media Toolkit
The FDA Office of Women's Health offers resources to help women and healthcare providers get informed about medicines and other products used during pregnancy. Use the Pregnancy Social Media Toolkit to inform pregnant women in your network about medication safety. The toolkit includes resources for pregnant women and health professionals, including sample social media messages and blog posts.
Download and Share: Social Media Toolkit (PDF 752KB)
To Learn More
- Get Information about a Specific Drug
- Use of Codeine and Tramadol Products in Breastfeeding Women - Questions and Answers
- Pregnant? Breastfeeding? Better Drug Information Is Coming
- Registries Help Inform Medication Use in Pregnancy
- Pregnancy: A Time for Special Caution
- MotherToBaby - Provides counseling to patients and health care professionals about medicines used during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Resources for Health Professionals
- Pregnancy and Lactation Labeling Information for Health Professionals
- Pregnancy Registry Information for Health Professionals