The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Safe to take: Monistat, Gynelotrimin
Yeast infections are common during pregnancy, and while the condition won’t harm the baby the last thing you want to do is suffer through the itchy discomfort. “There is some absorption of vaginal creams into the body and blood stream, but doses are low and no studies show that it affects baby or mom negatively,” says Dr. Park. “We don’t prescribe the oral pill diflucan or fluconzaole because observational studies show that moms who have had to take extended doses for chronic fungal infections have had babies with birth defects.” However, it’s safe to take this oral yeast infection med when breastfeeding if you get the fungal infection known as thrush from your baby.
Safe to take: Benadryl, Sudafed, Afrin nasal spray, Claratin, Robitussin DM, Vicks Formula 44, Halls cough drops
“Pretty much all of the over-the-counter meds for common cold are thought to be safe,” says Dr. Park. One thing to keep in mind is that there are a lot of combination meds, such as Tylenol Cold, that treat multiple symptoms, such as a runny nose and cough and fever. But if the only cold symptoms you have are a headache and stuffy nose, why would you take a medication that also treats a cough? “Rather than taking meds you don’t actually need, target only the symptoms you want to treat by buying drugs for each of your specific concerns,” says Dr. Park.
Look for the ingredient dextromethorphan, or DM, for a cough suppressant; guaifenesin to loosen up mucus; and pseudoephedrinem and phenylephrine, or PE, as a decongestant for a stuffy nose.
Please consult with your healthcare provider before taking any medication while pregnant.
Safe to take: Tamiflu
Your immune system isn’t as strong when you’re pregnant, so the flu can hit you a whole lot harder—and even lead to death in extreme cases. That’s why it’s so important to get the flu vaccine (ask for the inactivated flu vaccine so you don’t get the live virus). However, if you’ve been exposed to and/or tested positive for the flu, doctors say it’s important to take Tamiflu to lessen the symptoms and duration. “Tamiflu is thought to be safe for pregnant women, and the risks of skipping it are far greater than taking the meds,” says Dr. Park. “That’s because the baby’s temperature is always going to be a degree higher than yours, so if you have a high fever it may cause birth defects during early development stages and pre-term labor during later stages of pregnancy.”
(such as depression, asthma, seizures, chronic hypertension, and diabetes)
Safe to take: It’s best to consult your doc if you’re on a prescription for a pre-existing health issue, but you’ll most likely need to continue taking life-saving meds during your pregnancy.
The goal is always to give the minimum dosage necessary to keep your symptoms under control, because there may be greater risks if you’re affected by say, asthma or seizures, than by the effects of taking those meds on the baby. “And even though we don’t recommend regular, prolonged exposure to anxiety drugs such as Zanax, Ativan, and valium because they’re addictive substances and the baby could have withdrawal symptoms at birth, we do prescribe them in rare occasions because you have to have a healthy, happy, functioning mom in order to have a healthy pregnancy,” says Dr. Park.