SOME women love every moment of pregnancy while others can’t wait for it to end – but for all women, pregnancy is when they need to take care and also deny their vices for the benefit of their unborn child. This means no smoking or drinking and even avoiding some medicines.
But abstinence isn’t easy when you would otherwise be able to take a tablet to treat a headache or hay fever.
The average risk of delivering a baby with major birth defects is relatively low for most people – about 3% to 5% – according to Australian pharmacy lecturer, Treasure McGuire. She said inherited epilepsy or depression as well as medicine, herbal remedies and some foods can increase risks, especially when consumed at critical stages of foetal development – the first and third trimesters.
“In most cases, the risk of bad effects to unborn babies is likely to be higher from an untreated maternal disease than from the medication used to treat it.”
So, in once-off but dire cases, when you must take a medicine to safeguard your own health, chances are good that you and your baby will be fine – but always do it after consultation with your doctor.
Unfortunately, there is little knowledge on the negative changes these substances can do to a growing baby.
This is why Dr Trudy Smith, a Joburg-based gynaecology oncologist and obstetrician, advised that it is best to avoid all unnecessary medication while pregnant. Meds must only be taken under the direction of a medical professional.
Just because a treatment is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe. “We have no randomised controlled trials on herbal medication in pregnancy.” The BabyCentre Medical Advisory Board offers a list of herbal remedies to use and avoid while pregnant, but there are more herbs marked as risky than safe. Use with caution, and only with the advice of your pharmacist, GP or obstetrician.
Diet as medicine
A good healthy, balanced and varied diet must include:
- Leafy greens