Medications that can do harm to a developing fetus usually do so in the first weeks of pregnancy – often before you know you are pregnant. Review the medications you are currently taking with your health care provider when you are planning a pregnancy and before you get pregnant. He or she may advise a different dosage or additional tests to monitor the effect of the medication throughout your pregnancy. Or, you may be advised to stop taking the drug altogether. In most circumstances the right treatment for a condition you have while trying to get pregnant or during pregnancy is exactly the same as the right treatment when you are not pregnant. Don’t stop effective treatment of any medical condition until you have discussed that treatment in your plan to become pregnant with your health care provider.
Many people assume that natural or herbal products are safer than prescription or over-the-counter medications. However, most natural products have not been tested for safety or effectiveness. And very few have been tested for safety during pregnancy. Be sure to discuss any natural or herbal remedies with your health care provider before taking them.
Don’t take over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies for nausea and vomiting without discussing these with your health care provider first. Diclectin® is the only prescription medication approved by Health Canada for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. You can also try ginger, sea bands, and pyridoxine (vitamin B6).
Caffeine. Moderate amounts of caffeine – one to two cups per day – are safe for consumption during pregnancy.
Alcohol. If you are trying to become pregnant, avoiding alcohol is the safest choice. Consumption of high amounts of alcohol is known to have serious effects on your baby (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder). If you need help with alcohol dependency, talk to your health care provider. There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy. Because drinking alcohol is common and half of all pregnancies are not planned, a woman may have consumed some alcohol before knowing she is pregnant. If the consumption was at low levels, be assured that there is likely no increased risk of adverse outcome. Such low level alcohol consumption is not a reason to terminate a wanted pregnancy.
Smoking. Smoking by either partner reduces fertility. Individuals having difficulty getting pregnant can increase their chances of conceiving by quitting smoking. Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy exposes the baby to many toxic chemicals and is one of the most preventable causes of poor pregnancy outcomes (e.g., low birth weight, stillbirth, preterm birth). Since smoking causes significant negative effects on the fetus, it is best to quit before you become pregnant. Quitting or significantly reducing the number of cigarettes smoked while you are pregnant causes no adverse effects on the pregnancy, and is beneficial to both you and the baby. Talk to your health care provider for help in managing your cravings.
Street Drugs. Street drugs are never safe for use, particularly before or during pregnancy.
It is never too late to reduce or eliminate consumption of alcohol, nicotine, or street drugs.