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Managing Medications During Pregnancy


By: Jarod Schreiber, pharmacist at Geisinger Pharmacy Muncy


When in doubt, check with your pharmacist.


Having a baby? Thinking about getting pregnant? There’s probably a lot on your mind. One more thing to consider: managing your medications. Because recommendations change often, your care team, including your pharmacist, can offer peace of mind.


Meds during pregnancy are all about managing risk and prioritizing health. Things you take regularly may not be recommended when you’re pregnant, so you might need alternatives to manage chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. Certain vitamins can interact with your body differently when there’s a baby involved. So have an open conversation with your care team.


Is it safe to take over-the-counter medications during pregnancy?


As long as you’re careful to take the right amount at the right frequency, many over-the-counter drugs are safe to take while pregnant. The most common ones are for allergies, respiratory issues, digestive problems or skin conditions, as well as for general pain or discomfort. But be aware that a medication’s safety risk may change as your pregnancy progresses.


Tylenol® (acetaminophen) has long been considered safe during any trimester of pregnancy and can be a go-to for achiness, headache and sore throat. However, as with any medication — and especially during pregnancy — be cautious and check with your care team before using it over the long term. Similarly, most cold medications are considered safe for short-term use outside of the first trimester. But again, have a conversation with your pharmacist before starting them.


Is it safe to take my prescription meds while I’m pregnant?


The short answer: It depends.


When you’re pregnant, managing chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and mental health is just as important as being mindful of the medication risks. In fact, pregnancy can make some conditions worse. So you’ll need to work with your pharmacist and care team to find the right balance between medication safety and disease management.


And while many prescription medications are safe to take while pregnant, some have risks. The good news? There are alternatives — and your pharmacist is trained at identifying them and working with your doctor to keep your health on track.


Pharmacists evaluate all the risks associated with medications, work with doctors and care teams to help patients get on the right treatments and find a balance to mitigate risks for both moms and babies. We recognize that nothing is 100% safe, but we work diligently to get as close to 100% as possible.


Can I take vitamins while pregnant?


What you put into your body affects your baby, so watch out for misinformation online about taking vitamins while pregnant. The truth is, most of these products — like vitamins, supplements and essential oils — are not tested for safety, especially for pregnant women. In fact, products like vitamin A have been proven dangerous and can lead to complications when you’re pregnant.


So what’s safe and beneficial to you and your baby? Your doctor and pharmacist will likely agree: prenatal vitamins. They’re taken by the majority of pregnant people in the United States.


How should I prepare for my next visit with my care team?


Ahead of your next medical appointment, think about how prescriptions and medication may impact you during your pregnancy. Even if you’re in the early stages of planning a family, you can take steps right now to prepare. Ask yourself these questions:


What medications am I taking right now? Don’t forget about prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, skincare topicals, herbal and dietary supplements and vitamins.


Does my care team, including my pharmacist, have an updated list of my medications? Bring a complete list to your appointment.


Do I plan to stop or start any medications soon? If so, be sure to speak with your care team first.


As a parent, you’ll do everything you can to make sure your baby is safe, and that responsibility starts even before birth. Work with your care team to take the right medications at the right dosage during pregnancy. That way, you can keep yourself and your little one healthy — and off to a great start.

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