Take the right medicines during pregnancy

If you’re planning to start a family, you can help your chances of having a healthy baby by planning ahead and making the right choices about the medications you take.

To make sure you’re getting enough of the important nutrients you need, including protein, iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, your health care provider may ask you to meet with a registered dietitian who can help you plan meals. Your doctor may also recommend that you take supplements, as women who are pregnant should avoid regular vitamins due to high doses.

Although most health care providers recommend taking a multivitamin/mineral “prenatal” supplement before becoming pregnant, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding, you should always talk to your doctor before taking any medications, vitamins or otherwise. Also, ask about special vitamins for pregnant women that can help keep you and your baby healthy. Even some “natural” products may not be good for women who are pregnant or nursing.

To help prevent birth defects, it is important to get daily folate before, as well as during, pregnancy. Prenatal supplements contain folic acid (another form of folate), so look for a supplement with at least 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid.

Your heart and kidneys work harder when you’re pregnant. This makes some medications pass through your body faster than usual. Your doctor might need to give you a higher dose or make you take them more often.

It’s very important that you keep getting treatment for any health problems. Some drugs can harm your baby during different stages of your pregnancy. At these times, your doctor might tell you to stop taking your regular medicine until it is safe to go back on it, or your doctor may put you on a different medicine that is safer for you and your baby. However, never start or stop a medication for a serious health condition without consulting a doctor first.

If you’re taking over-the-counter medications, read the label and ask questions. The law says that all drug labels must list the risks for women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist can help you choose the medications that are right for you.

For more information or to make an appointment with an OB-GYN, call 423-778-2564 or visit www.erlanger.org.