When a pregnant women takes medication she is not only giving the drug to herself but also to her unborn baby. Many women take prescription or over the counter medicines, herbs and vitamins during pregnancy without realising the potential for harm to the foetus.

This section will highlight the potential risks involved in taking any medicine without checking with your doctor first.

Medication and pregnancy

General considerations

Any drug or chemical taken during pregnancy is able to cross the placenta from the mother to the fetus from as little as five weeks after conception. Between 17 to 70 days post conception is the most dangerous period, where the teratogenic effects of drugs can result in major malformations of your baby. However the nervous system continues to develop in a complex way throughout pregnancy and the effects on neurological function can occur beyond 70 days until delivery and are often subtle e.g. intellectual, learning and behavioural problems.

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Risk categories for medication

Risk Categories for Medication

The Australian Drug Evaluation Committee of the Therapeutics Goods Administration has published an online guide "Prescribing medicines in pregnancy database" that  details risk categories for drugs taken in pregnancy. It includes all the commonly prescribed medications and their risk against a seven-point scale. It is a useful guide for health professionals and clients alike.

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Herbs in pregnancy

Herbal Preparations in Pregnancy

Many women of child-bearing age use herbal preparations on a regular basis and, because they are 'natural', consider them safe. However, all medications should be used with caution in pregnancy, and this includes complementary and herbal medicines. Unfortunately, there are a lack of professional sites that provide specific detail and those that do, err on the side of caution - and with good reason. Below we provide an outline of which herbs are safe to use in pregnancy and which to avoid, as well as useful links and sources of further information on the subject.

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