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Medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Published on February 12, 2024 at 8:00 / Updated on February 24, 2024 at 8:00


Use of medications during pregnancy

Some medications can be used safely during pregnancy, while others should be avoided. To find out whether a medication is safe to use during pregnancy, speak with your health care provider.

Certain medications are associated with the following:

  • An increased risk of birth defects, which varies according to:
    • The drug
    • The dosage
    • The length of time the medication is taken
    • The period of pregnancy during which the medication is taken
  • An effect on the course of the pregnancy
    • For example, premature delivery, stunted growth, or miscarriage
  • Side effects in the baby at birth
    • Primarily associated with the use of certain medications during the final weeks of pregnancy

Use of natural health products during pregnancy

Natural health products are readily available. As with medications, some natural health products can have a serious impact on your baby and your pregnancy.

Herbal teas and essential oils contain various fruits, plants, and spices. Some products are not recommended during pregnancy.

Taking a multivitamin that contains folic acid is recommended from 2 to 3 months before the start of pregnancy until 4 to 6 weeks after birth, or until you stop breastfeeding.

Talk to your pharmacist before using any natural health product, herbal tea, or essential oil.

Vaccination during pregnancy

Certain vaccines are recommended during pregnancy, including the following shots:

  • Influenza (flu)
  • Whooping cough

Some vaccines are not advised during pregnancy (e.g., the chickenpox vaccine). It's recommended to have an up-to-date vaccination record before you become pregnant. Talk to your health care provider to find out whether your immunizations are current.

Use of other products during pregnancy

Some consumer products can have an effect on pregnancy and your unborn child. Some of these should be avoided altogether, while others can be consumed in moderation.

Alcohol Avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy.
Drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to many malformations and complications.
The amount of alcohol that is safe for fetal development is unknown.
Caffeine Limit caffeine intake to 300 mg daily (equivalent to 3 cups of coffee).
Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cola-type soft drinks, and chocolate.
Cannabis Do not consume cannabis during pregnancy.
Cannabis can cause stunted growth and increases the risk of premature birth.
Recreational drugs Do not use recreational drugs during pregnancy.
Sweeteners (sugar alternatives) Do not use sweetening agents as a replacement for table sugar.
The amount found in gum or soft drinks should not be harmful during pregnancy.
Tobacco Do not smoke while pregnant.
Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can lead to stunted growth and several complications.

If you need support to stop using any of these substances, talk to your health care provider.

Common health problems during pregnancy

Some ailments can be treated without medication. If these measures are ineffective or insufficient, don't hesitate to speak to your health care provider.

Non-pharmacological measures
Heartburn - reflux
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals (e.g., 5 to 6 meals per day).
  • Don't eat or drink 2 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine and spicy, acidic, or fatty foods.
  • Elevate the head of your bed by about 15 cm.
  • Increase your dietary fibre intake.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Stay physically active.
  • Avoid constipation.
  • Try sitz baths using warm water.
  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods.
  • Apply cold compresses to the hemorrhoids.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Eat before you feel hungry.
  • Avoid fatty or spicy foods.
  • Avoid strong odours.
Pain - Backache - Headache
  • Get some rest.
  • Use hot or cold compresses.
Insect bites
  • Wear long, light-coloured clothing.
  • Avoid wearing perfume.
  • Avoid exposure to insects when they are most active, namely at sunrise and sunset.
  • Avoid places where mosquitoes proliferate (stagnant water) and where ticks live (tall grass).
Cough - Nasal congestion
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Get some rest.


Use of medications while breastfeeding

Medications that are not recommended during breastfeeding are not always the same as those that are not recommended during pregnancy. Certain medications can:

  • Be transferred to the baby through breast milk and cause adverse effects
  • Decrease milk production and make breastfeeding more difficult

Fortunately, breastfeeding rarely has to be interrupted because of a medication. Some medications are also better treatment choices than others. Talk to your pharmacist to find out whether a medication is safe to use while breastfeeding.

For more information:

The drugs and pharmaceutical services featured on the website are offered by pharmacists who own the affiliated pharmacies at Familiprix. The information contained on the site is for informational purposes only and does not in any way replace the advice and advice of your pharmacist or any other health professional. Always consult a health professional before taking or discontinuing medication or making any other decision. Familiprix inc. and the proprietary pharmacists affiliated with Familiprix do not engage in any way by making this information available on this website.