What If I Took A Medication Before Knowing I Was Pregnant?

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Medications pregnancy

Many foods, over-the-counter medications, and alcohol are no-nos during pregnancy. Of course, most pregnant women will avoid taking substances that may harm their developing baby. But what if you took a medication before you knew you were pregnant?

Medications to Avoid During Pregnancy

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, collectively known as NSAIDs, are not recommended during pregnancy. There’s some evidence to indicate that taking NSAIDs in early pregnancy increases your chance of a miscarriage. Common NSAIDs include:

  • Aspirin
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Indomethacin (Indocin)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
  • Oxaprozin (Daypro)
  • Some forms of Robitussin (first trimester)
  • Sudafed (first trimester)

Some drugs prescribed to treat depression and other mental health conditions may also be discouraged during pregnancy. Medications such as Paxil, Adderall, and Xanax may pose risks for the developing fetus. Similarly, valproate, a medication used to treat epilepsy, has been shown to increase the risk of birth defects (read more about this here).

What To Do?

If you took a medication that is associated with pregnancy complications before you knew you were pregnant, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may recommend discontinuing the medication, if that is safe for you. Often, your doctor will be able to find another medication that is equally effective for you and safer for your baby.

The Good News

If you took a medication that is known to affect babies during pregnancy, do not panic! There’s a good chance that you will still have a healthy, normal pregnancy, and that your baby will be perfectly fine.

For one thing, there are many medications that doctors generally allow during pregnancy. While it’s important to bear in mind that no medication is guaranteed to be 100% safe, most medical professionals will clear you to take the following as needed:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Many common antihistamines, including Benadryl, Claritin, and hydrocortisone cream
  • Many common heartburn medications, including Mylanta and TUMs
  • Monistat
  • Some SSRIs, SNRIs, and other mental health medications

Even if you took a medication that is not recommended during pregnancy, it may be that one or two doses are not enough to significantly increase your risk of miscarriage or other complications. Your doctor can give you a better idea of the risks involved in your pregnancy. He or she may tell you that as long as you don’t take that medication again going forward, there’s no reason to worry about your baby.

If you’re unsure about a medication, and especially if you take a medication to manage your mental or physical health, talk to your doctor about the best course of treatment for you during pregnancy. Your doctor may suggest an alternate medication. In some cases, your doctor may suggest you continue taking a commonly discouraged medication if he or she believes the risk to the baby is less than the risk you incur by discontinuing your medication.

Early pregnancy is a time of major change for your developing baby. If you’re planning to get pregnant, it’s smart to adjust your eating, drinking, and medication habits right away. But try not to get too worried if you took a medication before you knew you were pregnant. Your doctor can advise you going forward and may be able to reassure you that all looks perfectly healthy.

Jessica Sillers
Jessica Sillers is a parenting and finance writer whose work has been featured in Pregnancy & Newborn, Headspace, and more. As a new mom herself, she’s passionate about helping other parents find the community and support they need. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, reading, and hiking.

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