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Over the Counter Medications

Just because you can buy it without a prescription does not mean that it is not harmful. Many over the counter medications have known side-effects for pregnancy. Others are deemed safe by doctors, even though the mechanism by which they work would indicate that they are not safe for pregnancy.

Cough and Cold medications - These often contain alcohol, and always contain substances which either have unknown effects during pregnancy, or which are contraindicated.

Pain Relievers -

  • Aspirin is not safe during pregnancy, because it is a blood thinner. It can cause problems to the embryo in early pregnancy, and problems with the mother later.
  • Tylenol is generally considered safe, but may cause problems in situations where there are other problems already complicating the picture.
  • Ibuprofen and Naproxen Sodium are vaso constrictors. That means they constrict the blood vessels, and may restrict blood flow to the uterus. In fact, they are often used for precisely that purpose by women who are experiencing heavy menstruation or miscarriage. Ibuprofen has also been suggested as a potential aggravator to PCOS, and improper ovulation.

Laxatives - Many of these can cause uterine contractions. Others, such as psyllium husk based laxatives, and some stool softeners, are considered to be fairly safe. The affect on fertility and early pregnancy is not well-known.

Decongestants - Generally not recommended during the first three months of pregnancy. This means you should avoid them if you are unsure.

Antacids - Some are questionable, calcium based antacids are generally considered safe in moderate amounts. Sugarfree antacids often contain aspartame.

Anti-diarrheal or anti-nauseants - Generally considered unsafe for pregnancy. A little peppermint tea for nausea, or adjustments to your diet are a much safer option.

Throat lozenges - Some of these contain ingredients which have questionable safety for pregnancy. Others are high in sugar, and if you have high blood sugar, you'll want to watch your consumption of them. Some are nothing more than lemon or fruit flavored syrup candies, and they are generally safe for pregnancy, if not for your teeth!

The general rule is, don't take anything that you don't absolutely need to take, and then take the least amount, or the safest type. Be especially careful just prior to ovulation, and continue to be careful until you are sure you are not pregnant, or that you ARE pregnant and the most unstable developmental phases are finished (generally around 3 months).

That is a long time to be careful. But if you can manage it, it can make a big difference in your ability to carry a healthy baby to term. And avoiding every unnecessary exposure that you reasonably can, may help you to get out of a miscarriage cycle, if it has been contributing to it.

There are also a lot of herbal supplements that cross over into the over the counter range, which are covered in the section on that topic.


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