Pregnancy and medicine use

Pregnancy and medicine use

Pregnancy and medicine use. Most of the time you will notice that you are pregnant when you have no menstrual period. You will then be approximately two weeks pregnant. You may also find out that you are pregnant later because your cycle is irregular or due to other reasons.

So it may very well be that you have been taking the medication without knowing that you are pregnant. Many women wonder if this could have harmful effects on their babies. This question is usually not easy to answer. Whether the drug causes harm to your child depends on the type of drug.

In Pregnancy and medicine use, Many medications cannot be used without risk during pregnancy. These are harmful to the baby.

The effect on medicines for the baby is not fully known. Therefore, it is often better not to take medication temporarily or a lower dose, if possible.

Consult your doctor or gynecologist about this if you are taking medicines prescribed by your doctor. So, Let’s see Pregnancy and medicine use.

See also, Anemia in pregnancy stage

What is the influence of drug use on fertility?

Some medications affect sperm quality, such as medications used to treat cancer, certain bowel diseases, and some skin diseases. During the period that the man uses these drugs, pregnancy is not recommended.

Sometimes, even in the period after stopping, medicines can lead to reduced fertility or even birth defects. So always consult the package leaflet of your medicines.

What is the influence of drug use on pregnancy?

During pregnancy, your baby gets the nutrients and building materials he needs through the placenta and the umbilical cord. In most cases, the medicines you use also reach your baby in this way. Exceptions to this are insulin and heparin.

See also, Vaccines during pregnancy

Prescription medications

Some medicines are harmful to the baby. Therefore always tell your doctor or midwife that you are pregnant. This can be taken into account when prescribing medicines. If you are taking medicines for a chronic condition, discuss the consequences with your doctor or specialist before you become pregnant.

Over-the-counter medications People often don’t realize that pain killers, anti-diarrhea, constipation, wart, or restless drugs that you can get at a drugstore or grocery store are also medications. They can sometimes harm your unborn child.

Therefore, only use these products in consultation with your obstetrician, gynecologist, or general practitioner. This also applies to homeopathic remedies, because by no means all homeopathic medicines or herbs are safe during pregnancy.

Even with the use of vitamin preparations, it is wise to be careful. Regular vitamin preparations sometimes contain too much vitamin A. During pregnancy this can cause brain abnormalities in your child.

Folic acid is a vitamin that can be used before and during pregnancy. In fact, all women planning to get pregnant are recommended to take half a milligram of folic acid daily. The use of folic acid reduces the chance of an open back.

Four categories of medicines The medicines in the Netherlands are divided into four categories depending on the information that is known about the possible harmful effects on the unborn child. These four categories are:

  • Category A:
    • medicines that have been used by many women without ever having a harmful effect on the child
    • drugs of this category can be safely prescribed
  • Category B:
    • medicines that have not been used by many women and for which no harmful effects have been reported in the child to date
    • medicines in this category can be harmful to the child and should not be prescribed if a category A medicine can also be prescribed
  • Category C:
    • medicines are known to cause potentially harmful effects in the child
    • When a drug from this category is necessary, the need for the drug in the mother must be weighed against the risks that the child may run. So it is possible that a category C drug will be prescribed if there is no other alternative
  • Category D:
    • medicines are known to cause harmful effects in the child
    • Category D drugs should not be used during pregnancy

What is the Influence of medication use on the (unborn) child?

Whether a medicine causes harm to your (unborn) child depends on the type of medicine.

  • Certain medications are known not to cause harm to the unborn child. If you have used such medicine, you can assume that it is very unlikely to hurt. Talk to your midwife, GP, or gynecologist if you can continue using this medicine.
  • It is known or unknown whether other medicines can cause damage.

Factors that play a role in the risk of harm to the (unborn) child:

1. The amount of the drug that you have used 

With the single-use of the drug, the chance that your child has been harmed is not very high. The greater the amount of the drug, the more likely it is to harm your child. Of course, it does not have to be that your child has been damaged by the use of medication

2. How often you have used the medicine 

With single-use, your child is usually unaffected by medicine. The more you have taken the medicine, the more likely it is that your child has been harmed. It does not have to be the case that your child has been damaged by the use of medication 

3. The time at which you took the medication 

In the first twelve weeks, the organs of the unborn child develop. During this period, your child is most vulnerable to the effects of medicines. After twelve weeks, your child is less vulnerable to most medicines; some medicines are an exception to this. 

4. How to take the medicine 

When administered by injection only, the drug is usually not harmful, such as insulin and heparin

When to the doctor?

If you want to become pregnant and you are taking prescription medicines, it is wise to contact your pharmacy or the doctor or general practitioner who prescribed the medicines. The following questions are important:

Is it wise to get pregnant with the condition you are taking these drugs for?

There are conditions where it is better not to get pregnant. It is then wiser to wait until the condition has subsided or disappeared. Sometimes it is advisable to take certain precautions in such a situation.

Can you continue to use the medicines during your pregnancy?

If possible, you can switch to another medication that has been proven not to cause harm to the child. It is also possible that you use a medicine that is harmless to your child. You can continue to use this. Your doctor or specialist can indicate what you can do best in your situation. It is very important that you do not change your medication yourself.

General advice and precautions

Certain medications increase the risk of conditions, such as medicines for epilepsy.

The damage that medicines can cause to the unborn child can in some cases be assessed by prenatal examination. You can discuss this with the midwife, general practitioner, or gynecologist who supervises your pregnancy.

An example of a prenatal examination is an ultrasound examination. If the drug you have taken can cause harm, it doesn’t mean it actually happens. It is often quite difficult to demonstrate whether this is the case during pregnancy. If there is a suspicion of damage, an extensive ultrasound examination can be decided. You can read more about this in the information leaflet ‘Ultrasound scan during pregnancy’.

In many cases, the damage that a drug can cause cannot be detected by investigations. It is not much you can do but wait. Only after the birth of your child will it become clear whether there are consequences. Fortunately, the chance of damage is usually small.

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