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Medicine and Pregnancy

From the FDA Office Of Women's Health

Image of pregnant woman at a pharmacy reading a drug label

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Are you pregnant and taking medicines? You are not alone. There are about 6 million pregnancies in the U.S. each year, and 80% of those who are pregnant say that they take at least one medicine. Some may be getting treatment for a health problem they had before pregnancy, while others take medicines for health problems, like diabetes, morning sickness, or high blood pressure, that can start or get worse during pregnancy. Still others take medicines or get a vaccine before they find out they are pregnant.

Pregnancy can be an exciting time. It can also make you feel uneasy if you are not sure whether the medicines you are taking may affect your developing fetus. Many medicines are safe to use during pregnancy. For other medicines, there may be less information about whether they are safe to use during pregnancy.

Here are some tips to help you learn more about how prescription and over-the-counter medicines might affect you and your baby.

Ask questions

Always talk with your health care provider before you take any medicines, dietary supplements, or vitamins. 

Consider asking these questions when talking with your health care provider:

  • Will I need to change my medicines if I want to get pregnant or if I find out I am pregnant? Before you get pregnant, make a plan with your health care provider to help you safely use your medicines.
  • How might this medicine affect my pregnancy? Ask your health care provider about the benefits and risks of taking this medicine. 
  • Are there medicines and supplements I should avoid? Some medicines may harm your developing fetus during different stages of pregnancy. Your health care provider may have you take something else while you are pregnant.
  • Will I need to take more or less of my medicine? Your heart and kidneys work harder when you are pregnant. This may make some medicines pass through your body faster than usual.
  • Can I keep taking this medicine when I start breastfeeding? Some medicines can get into your breast milk and may affect your baby.
  • What medicines should I take when I am pregnant? Ask your health care provider what medicines to take while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Prenatal vitamins

Talk with your health care provider about taking prenatal vitamins. Some prenatal vitamins may have too much or too little of what you might need during pregnancy. 

What is folic acid? Folic acid helps to prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain or spine. Ask your health care provider about how much folic acid you should take before you become pregnant and through the first part of your pregnancy.  

Read the label

Check the medicine label and other information you get with your medicine to learn about the possible risks during pregnancy. The label tells you what is known about how the medicine might affect you and your developing fetus.

Find information on a certain medicine

Prescription medicine information

Prescription medicine labels contain helpful information about a medicine's risks during pregnancy. The labels may also have information on whether the medicine gets into breast milk and how it could possibly affect the baby.

Be smart online

Ask your health care provider about the information you read online. Some websites say certain medicines are or are not safe to take during pregnancy. You should always check with your health care provider first. Do not trust that a product is safe just because it says "natural."

Check with your health care provider before you use a product that you heard about in a chat room or on social media.


Report problems

First, tell your health care provider about any problems you have with your medicine. Also, tell FDA about any serious problems you have after taking a medicine. 

What products are regulated by FDA

You should report problems like serious side effects and product quality problems. You should also report product use errors, such as accidentally taking the wrong dose or wrong medicine, that are related to unclear use or dosing instructions. Report problems or use errors with these products:

  • Human medicines, including vaccines
  • Medical devices
  • Blood products and other biologics 
  • Medical foods prescribed by a health care provider and intended to help manage a disease or health condition (this does not include meal replacements or diet shakes)

Types of issues you should report to FDA MedWatch

  • Unexpected side effects or adverse events
  • Product quality problems
  • Product use/medication errors that can be prevented
  • Therapeutic failures

How to report

Volunteer to sign up for a pregnancy exposure registry

Pregnancy exposure registries are research studies that collect information about the effect that prescription medicines taken or vaccines received during pregnancy may have on you and your developing fetus. These studies collect information from those who are pregnant and who are taking or have taken a certain medicine or received a certain vaccine while pregnant. Some pregnancy exposure registries collect information from those who are pregnant but have not taken a certain medicine or received a certain vaccine. Some pregnancy exposure registry studies also collect information about newborn babies for a period of time after birth. 

You can volunteer to join a pregnancy exposure registry (if one is open and enrolling). The information collected can help health care providers and others who are pregnant to learn more about the safety of medicines and vaccines used during pregnancy.  

  • Help others who are pregnant by sharing your experiences with medicines and vaccines.
  • You will be asked to provide information about your health and possibly your baby's health.
FDA has a list of ongoing pregnancy exposure registries on its website but does not run the pregnancy exposure registry studies. The drug companies that make the medicines and vaccines are usually in charge of the pregnancy exposure registry for their product. Sometimes, these research studies are run by other researchers. See if there is a pregnancy registry research study for your medicine or vaccine.

To learn more about pregnancy exposure registries visit www.fda.gov/pregnancyregistries

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