Besides increasing the skills to reduce or avoid pills during pregnancy, there are popular pills you need to be extra cautious about:
Antidepressants and antianxiety medicines. While recent research links the use of mood mellowers, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), during pregnancy with increased rates of birth defects, the science is a bit conflicting. There seems to be a slight correlation between SSRI use in mothers and heart defects in babies, though it’s very low: 0.9 percent in women who took an SSRI compared with 0.5 percent of women who didn’t. It was also found that newborns who are exposed to SSRIs while in the womb may experience a temporary withdrawal-like effect, including low blood sugar, unstable body temperature, and irritability.
These medications belong in the “when in doubt, leave them out” category, unless you have tried all alternatives and your fragile mental health jeopardizes your healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. Be sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs. Your baby’s growing body and brain – as well as yours – need extra cholesterol. Cholesterol is one of the top brain fats in growing your little “fathead,” and you need additional cholesterol to make the pregnancy-maintaining hormones progesterone and estrogen. The good news is that except in the case of a rare genetic quirk called familial hypercholesterolemia, the skills of diet and exercise we recommend will usually work as well as and much more safely than the pills to keep you cholesterol at a healthy level.
Botox. This drug has not been proven safe. Don’t use it while pregnant.
Over-the-counter pain and fever reducers. While a few occasional doses of ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin) or aspirin are unlikely to harm your baby, prolonged use requires medical supervision. Both ibuprofen and aspirin can interfere with prostaglandins, the natural labor inducing hormones. Also, because of its prostaglandin-lowering effect, prolonged use of ibuprofen could theoretically interfere with normal blood flow in the baby’s blood vessels. (Prostaglandins regulate widening and narrowing of blood vessels. Aspirin is an anticoagulant and theoretically can cause bleeding. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is considered the safest analgesic. If taken in the standard dose for only two to three consecutive days, it gets the green light.
For additional resources on using medication during pregnancy see Medications and Mothers Milk 2012 by Thomas Hale or Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation by Gerald Briggs, Roger Freeman, and Sumner Yaffe.