Almost every pregnant woman will face a decision about taking medicines before and during pregnancy. 

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Many women need to take medicine to stay healthy during pregnancy. You might need to take medicines to treat a health condition such as asthma, depression, high blood pressure, or epilepsy. Untreated mental illness can have long-term health and well-being impacts for you and your baby. There are a number of safe and effective treatment options for depression during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. To determine what is best for you and your pregnancy, talk with a healthcare provider about any medicines you have taken, are taking, or are thinking of taking. This should include all prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, herbal and dietary supplements, and vitamins.

Pregnant women are often not included in research studies that determine the safety of new medicines. Because of this we know little about the effects of taking most medicines in pregnancy, however, we do know:

  • 9 in 10 women report taking some type of medicine during pregnancy, and 7 in 10 report taking at least one prescription medicine. Over the last 30 years, women’s use of prescription medicines during the first trimester (first 3 months) of pregnancy increased by more than 60 percent
  • Many women need to take medicines during pregnancy to control their health conditions. In some cases, avoiding or stopping a medicine during pregnancy may be more harmful than taking that medicine;
  • Taking certain medicines during pregnancy can increase the risk for birth defects, pregnancy loss, prematurity, infant death, or developmental disabilities
  • The effects of medicine on you and your baby may depend on many factors such as:
    • How much medicine you take (dose)
    • When during the pregnancy you are taking the medication
    • Other health conditions you have and
    • Other medications you may be taking

If you are trying to have a baby or are just thinking about it, it is not too early to start getting ready for pregnancy.  If you are planning to become pregnant, you should discuss your current medicines with a healthcare provider. Some medicines can cause birth defects very early in pregnancy, often before you even know you are pregnant. Creating a treatment plan for your health condition before you are pregnant can help keep you and your developing baby healthy.


Please remember this information is intended for educational purposes only and should not substitute medical advice from a healthcare provider.