Taking or not taking your medications during pregnancy can be a risky business for both the mother and the baby.
When a pregnant mother takes a medication, there is a possibility that this medicine can reach the developing baby through the placenta.
Prior to prescribing medications to pregnant mothers, health care professionals need to consider the available safety information for these medications.
In Australia, we have a medication categorisation system for prescribing medicines in pregnancy.
The categories are based on the evidence (human and animal studies) and whether the evidence is strong or weak.
When you and your health care professional are considering whether to start taking a medication during pregnancy, there are a few other factors that also need to be considered.
Firstly, is there a need to take the medication and what risks are involved to the mother and baby if the medicines are not taken?
For instance, with epilepsy, if left untreated, it could result in poor health outcomes for the Mum and could lead to permanent birth defects in the baby or possible miscarriage.
Even though anti-epileptic medications increase the risk of birth defects, the effects of not taking the medications could outweigh these risks.
A second consideration is what stage of the pregnancy is the mother in?
The first trimester of pregnancy is where the baby is creating the different parts of the body.
This is where a medication has the most risk of causing permanent birth defects, so it is always best to avoid unnecessary medications during this period.
Medications taken in the third trimester, especially just before giving birth, may have a residual effect on the baby when it is born (drowsiness, irritability, seizures).
There are many safe medications you can take while pregnant if required, yet there are quite a few that can cause harm to your developing baby.
In order to minimise risk to you and your baby, it is important to consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medications during pregnancy.
If you have any further queries or would like to find out more, you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org, find a further discussion on the Geeveston Pharmacy Facebook page or contact Geeveston Pharmacy directly on 6297 1256.