Saturday, May 18, 2013

Doula Wisdom : Pregnancy and Medications

Pregnancy and Medications  

When you’re pregnant, you have to be aware of everything you eat or drink, including medications and herbal supplements, both prescription and over-the-counter. There are very few things that won’t cross across the placenta and affect your baby, so it’s important to understand what you’re taking.

It’s especially important that you avoid any medications that aren’t absolutely essentially during the first 8 to 10 weeks of your pregnancy. This is the time when your baby's brain, heart, and lungs are developing – medication interactions could lead to defects in these areas.

Before prescribing any medicine, your doctor or nurse-midwife will look at whether the risk of taking medicine is higher than the risk of not treating your illness. If you or your baby would face worse problems without treatment, then your doctor or nurse-midwife will prescribe medicine or recommend an over-the-counter one. He or she will also look at which medicine to give you. For example, some antibiotics are safe for pregnant women, and some are not.

And while there are no medications which are 100 percent safe for every person, there are certain people for whom the benefits of a particular medication outweigh any possible side effects. For example, a type I diabetic needs to take synthetic insulin during pregnancy, regardless of what interactions you do need medication while pregnant, you want to take the smallest dose for the least possible time to still be effective. Follow all dosing directions provided by your doctor – for example, some medications should be taken with food, others on an empty stomach. Take each medication with a full glass of water – if you take a sip of water before taking your medication, it may be easier to swallow. Make sure your doctor knows you’re pregnant, and if you have any questions about a medication's safety, talk with your obstetrician or pharmacist.

Among the medicines that increase the chances of birth defects are:

The acne medicine isotretinoin (such as Amnesteem and Claravis). This medicine is very likely to cause birth defects. It should not be taken by women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant.

ACE inhibitors, such as benazepril and lisinopril, which lower blood pressure.

Medicines to control seizures, such as valproic acid.

Some antibiotics, such as tetracycline and doxycycline.

Warfarin (such as Coumadin), which helps prevent blood clots.

Lithium, which is used to treat bipolar depression.

Alprazolam (such as Xanax), diazepam (such as Valium), and some other medicines used to treat anxiety.

 Paroxetine (such as Paxil), which is used to treat depression and other conditions.

Natural Ways to Help With Pregnancy Discomforts

Prevent Backaches

While most women will get a backache during pregnancy there some things you can do to prevent one from even starting.

 •Gain the proper amount of weight to keep pressure off the ligaments and joints in your back. Speak to your care provider about proper weight gain during pregnancy.

 •Avoid high heels after your first trimester. High heels cause the back arch which can cause backaches.

•Bend at the knees to lift objects.

•Avoid standing for long periods.  If you have no choice about how much you stand, try standing with one foot on a low stool. Switch feet every so often.

 •Alleviate stress. Stress is a huge culprit of backaches, with or without pregnancy. Talk to your partner or care provider about stress release options.

Try Heat

Heat is probably one of the best ways to relieve backache during pregnancy. A warm bath or a warm shower can ease tense muscles. If possible, take a chair (sit backwards in it) or a birthing ball into the shower with you so you can aim the water at the exact spot that hurts and sit down at the same time. However, you should make sure you take warm, not hot showers. Raising the body temperature too high can harm the baby.  Heating pads set on a low setting are usually safe as well, with the approval of your care provider.

Take a Pregnancy Yoga Class

Pregnancy yoga stretches and strengthens muscles, which for many women alleviates backaches. It also may help prevent backaches from even starting. In addition, pregnancy or prenatal yoga prepares your body for labor and birth. Speak to your gym or your care provider for a recommendation to a pregnancy yoga class.

Sit on a Ball

Sitting on a birthing or exercise ball during pregnancy can help with backaches too. Sitting on a birthing ball takes pressure off the lower back muscles. It also aligns the torso forcing users to sit up straighter. If you're having back problems during your pregnancy, consider making the birthing ball your primary chair both at work and at home.

Get a Pregnancy Massage

A simple massage every two weeks may help to prevent or alleviate backaches during pregnancy. Most massage therapists are trained to give massages to pregnant women and many have special tables built for a pregnant woman's belly.

 Always let your masseuse know you're pregnant before you beginning a pregnancy massage as some massage/essential oils should not be used on pregnant women and some massage techniques can actually trigger labor.

Do a Pelvic Tilt

A pelvic tilt helps with spine alignment. It also helps to strengthen abdominal muscles and is very helpful if you have back labor during birth. To do a pelvic tilt, get into a hands and knees position. Keep your back straight and don't let it sag or arch. Take a deep breath, tuck your head under and tighten your abdominal muscles. If you've lost your abdominal muscles, try tucking your buttocks inward while tightening your stomach muscles. If you do this exercise correctly, your upper back should round.

Use a Full-Body Pillow

A full body pillow is a super long pillow that pregnant women can use to support their back, place between their legs to keep their hips in alignment and even support their belly, all at the same time. This support can help prevent backaches from starting when you're asleep.

Wear a Maternity Support Belt

A maternity support belt goes around the middle to support a pregnant belly. With proper use, many women find the support belt takes away all backache. Talk to your care provider about which brand they recommend you use.


The information in this article should not be considered medical advice. The information in this article is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Always check with your physician before taking any products or following any advice you have read on the internet.  Always consult your doctor before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed. Certain herbs and holistic remedies are unsuitable to take if you are pregnant or nursing.

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