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Are we too cautious about taking medication during pregnancy?

(18 Posts)
MEDIA: FranM77 Tue 29-Apr-14 11:30:21


I'm a journalist and am writing an article for the Guardian about pregnant women and medication. There's a coalition of doctors who believe that women need to be included in more medical trails so they can be safely treated during pregnancy.

If you have time, I'd love to hear:

- Do you feel pressured not to take any medication during pregnancy?
- Would you ever take part in a medical trial while you were pregnant?
- Do you think there's too much focus on the health of the baby at the expense of the mother?
- How would you weigh up risks and benefits? (eg, would you have to be very ill to consider medication?)

I'm interested in your views on everything from painkillers upwards. You can be completely anon.

Thanks so much!


ilovemybabies123 Tue 29-Apr-14 13:01:55

No. I feel that medication is taking too much in pregnancy and ladies are sometimes too quick to take the easy option. I personally would rather suffer and take medication as a last resort.

I absolutely would not do a medical trial while pregnant. I opted out of the whooping cough vaccine as it was new and only been tested in USA with similar but not the same ingredients and didn't have it with my first so refused it with my second.

I think that all of the focus should be on the health of the baby and less on the mother. I personally would suffer for days with colds/headaches etc before taking ANY medication.

FranM77 Tue 29-Apr-14 20:01:07

Thanks so much for the answer, ilovemybabies.

If you had something more serious than a cough or headache, would that make you feel differently?

ilovemybabies123 Wed 30-Apr-14 16:02:10

I had thrush for no exaggeration, about a month while pregnant-unbearable. The doctor prescribed tablets, cream and a pessary. None of which worked. Someone the suggested not putting sugar in my tea as it apparently breeds the bacteria the other end and it literally worked within hours. Thus, doctors are too quick to give out medication. Next time I will be sticking to my guns and taking nothing.

SlinkyB Wed 30-Apr-14 16:12:19

I have perennial allergic rhinitis (all-year-round sneezing and dripping nose), which I take daily antihistamines for.

Whilst pg in 2011 I was told I couldn't take anything.

Whilst pg in 2013 I was told Loratadine was safe, so took that on really bad days.

I felt comfortable taking them (I also took various anti emetics for hyperemesis last year) and would do it again.

I would probably take part in a trial, but it's too late now as not having any more children.

SueDNim Wed 30-Apr-14 16:17:01

I think that there is conflicting advice from medical professionals - some err on the side of caution because they don't know enough, where as others have more information and are able to weigh up the benefits and risks. You see this regularly on MN threads.

ThePrisonerOfAzkaban Wed 30-Apr-14 16:22:12

I've had to a mountain of medication during this pregnancy mostly due to morning sickness (hypermesis) if I'm late in taking just one tablet I end up back in hospital. So far been in for 5 separate week long stays, also I've had a few infections and a few other bits. The looks I get from people when taking these medication's when out and out is horrible, I've had people coming up to me saying I'm putting baby in danger. My mil is the worst she just tuts "oh you don't need those" makes me feel really guilty. But if I don't take them I can't keep food or water down for days on end then I get "oh it will pass soon" or "surely you've kept something down" mum no actually I haven't.

I'm also told by doctors that most of my meds aren't tester which does make me wonder. I've been booking in extra private scans to make sure that baby is developed correctly and I worry like mad if I hadn't felt baby move for a few hours. Testing medicines would make what safe and what's not so much more clear.

FranM77 Wed 07-May-14 12:47:01

Thanks so much for sharing your stories, everyone. It seems there is a lot of conflicting information out there for mums.
I appreciate you help!

AWombWithoutARoof Wed 07-May-14 12:53:30

I had shingles whilst pregnant, and due to it being on my face I was advised to take meds for it to try to stop it either getting onto my cornea or into my ear drum. The initial stuff I was prescribed had contraindications for use during pregnancy, but a second GP was very proactive on my behalf in getting confirmation that a second medication would be OK.

To answer your question directly, I take very little medication, prefer not to take paracetamol for headaches, cold remedies etc. I'd have suffered on had it not been for the location of the shingles.

I generally take the view that things are often safe but it's just not been proved to be safe, so I would take with a pinch of salt advice not to take anything just because it's not been proved to be safe. So I take things I feel are low risk, like the odd dose of athletes foot spray, or certain antihistamines, but I usually use the minimum I need to and may do some research first. I would always take paracetamol for a headache though! I don't see the point in suffering if there is thought to be little risk.

IME doctors I have seen follow this approach although pharmacists not so much. A pharmacist once refused to give me a prescription from my doctor. I was 8 months pregnant, had come straight from the GPs with the prescription in my hand and she asked if my doctor knew I was pregnant!

I might take part in a trial..... but more a "proving that we know it's safe" sort of trial than anything more experimental or uncertain! And it would have to be very well rewarded grin

squizita Wed 07-May-14 13:23:54

Do you feel pressured not to take any medication during pregnancy?

As you know some of us pregnant women need to take medication in order for the baby to survive.

In my experience, lots of people are utterly ignorant of this and it can be dangerous. For example, when I went to pick up my medication (aspirin and anti-coagulant) from a chemist, the assistant was at first tried to refuse me the medication 'because' I was pregnant 'there must be a mistake' (I am on it BECAUSE I am pregnant). Luckily I am pretty articulate and knew my rights, and I insisted on speaking to someone. But what of someone with limited English, shy or easily bamboozled?

I have also seen posts on the pregnancy forums here along the lines of "My midwife has me on aspirin for potential thrombosis: shall I refuse to take it because 'everyone knows' it's bad...' shock Just so dangerous and based on social peer pressure/hysteria.

In terms of trials: one of the reason so many myths abound is that some reasonable/safe trials don't happen - especially in terms of finding the causes for early recurrent miscarriage. I actually signed up to the TABLET trial (for thyroid antibodies) but thankfully it turned out my antibodies weren't the problem anyway. However had they been, I would have gladly done the trial just so that women COULD be prescribed treatment on the NHS. Many anti-miscarriage treatments cannot be offered on the NHS not because they aren't deemed useful (Prof Quenby's work for example) but because they aren't sufficiently trialled.

squizita Wed 07-May-14 13:28:38

Oh... and I do think (and can see from this thread) people associate 'illness' in pregnancy with allergies, thrush, headache.
It's not for many women. Dormant blood and thyroid complaints, gestational diabetes, depression, SPD... all of these are very, very serious for the mother. She isn't being 'selfish' if she wishes to medicate to rule out the possibility of her child having a long-term-sick or disabled parent (or worse) - or indeed, the risk of stillbirth.

I once had someone tut that my many placental scans could make my baby left handed - a 'change' from nature (and only mildly proven in one minor study). A lack of them could mean a dead baby. Which makes me the 'selfish' one?

whereisthewitch Wed 07-May-14 13:37:09

I think people who have uncomplicated pregnancies are too quick to jump on the "I would avoid at all costs" bandwagon, I've been judged in rl for the amount of medication I have had to take in pregnancy. I remember sympathising with a friend who had spd and advising her that her gp could prescribe codeine short term to help her manage her very obvious pain - she and her friends nearly bit my head off (they are the natural parenting types)

I suffered drom hyperemesis, hypertension, spd and migraines during my last pregnancy and this one. So at one point I was on 3 different types of medication to help relieve these issues. Could I have suffered through? Absolutely not.
I also had a chest infection in my first pregnancy and ended up in hospital on a nebuliser, I took pretty strong anti bs for that too. My DD is the healthiest child I know so none of it has had any ill effects on her.

I think if I were desperate enough I would trial a drug, hyperemesis especially can make you very very depressed, at one point I will admit to feeling devoid of any hope. So perhaps if a drug was thought to be 99% safe and made a big difference to the condition then I would consider it definitely.

MirandaWest Wed 07-May-14 13:47:03

I don't tend to take many medicines at all generally (occasional pain killers etc) but when I was pregnant with DS I developed pre eclampsia and was prescribed medication for high blood pressure and was also anaemic so took iron tablets. I can't see how it would have benefitted either of us for me to have not taken them.

And then with DD my depression reached a level where tbh without ADs there is a strong likelihood I would have killed myself which would also have killed DD. So that medication benefitted me but also her. I can't know the effect on her from having taken them but not taking them would have been a bad idea.

ChaffinchOfDoom Wed 07-May-14 13:50:27

I had hyperemesis with 2 of my 3 pregnancies and needed plenty of different drugs to find the right anti-emetic; I ended up hospitalized on a drip with both pregnancies so the drugs were necessary for functioning as a human being

I took paracetamol if I really needed to, and a few throat sweets
the biggest thing I missed was hayfever meds; still unsure which are totally safe for now, during breastfeeding

LadyKooKoo Wed 07-May-14 14:07:05

I think that all of the focus should be on the health of the baby and less on the mother.

This seems ridiculous to me, if the Mother isn't healthy then the child won't be healthy either. I got a really bad cold when I was about 9-10 weeks pregnant with DD. The GP and Midwife told me to drink hot lemon. The midwife told me the flu jab was not safe. I got to 13 weeks pregnant and the paramedics came to the house and told me to take paracetamol. I was reluctant to take anything because of how the midwife, GP and paramedic were making me feel due to being pregnant. I was basically told to suck it up, anything you take will be bad for baby. Fast forward another 24 hours and I was in hospital being put into an induced coma because I had swine flu and pneumonia. The coma lasted for 7 weeks, I suffered two collapsed lungs and spent a total of three months in hospital.

DD will be three in June and she is a beautiful, spirited, delightful bundle of joy but she is also deaf and she also has perisylvian PMG so has delayed mobility and a range of other issues and potential issues (epilepsy for example); she has all of these things because of how poorly I was, because of the low oxygen levels in my blood. There is no way that she would have these conditions if I had been given proper advice in the first place and had been able to get better.

FranM77 Mon 19-May-14 09:04:31

Thanks again everyone for the stories - it really helped me build up a picture of what's going on.

If you're interested, here's the article:

FranM77 Mon 19-May-14 09:06:42

Thanks again everyone for the stories - it really helped me build up a picture of what's going on.

If you're interested, here's the article:

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