If you take medication on a regular basis, make an appointment with your pharmacist or doctor, to determine whether you can continue taking the medication while pregnant. If a change of treatment is required, you may need to delay your pregnancy plans while you adapt to the new treatment.
Start taking a folic acid supplement right away in order to reduce the risk of neural tube defect in the baby. Experts recommend starting to take these supplements at least three months before conception. Since it's impossible to know how long it will take you to conceive, the recommendation is to start taking the supplements three months before stopping your form of contraception.
The folic acid dose is usually 0.4 mg per day, but some women may need to take a higher dose. Your pharmacist can assess your needs and can even prescribe the folic acid (alone or in a multivitamin).
If you drink alcohol, you should ideally stop drinking right away, rather than waiting until you know you're pregnant. Alcohol can be toxic during the early weeks of the embryo development.
If you're having problems conceiving, there are certain tests to determine the time of your ovulation. These tests, which are available at the pharmacy, detect the presence of certain hormones in your urine and help you determine when you are most fertile.
If you haven't already done so, start taking folic acid as soon as you find out you're pregnant. Continue taking it throughout your whole pregnancy.
Nausea and vomiting are very common during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. To provide some relief, it is recommended that you eat less, but more often, so that you don't stay on an empty stomach too long. Avoid fatty, spicy and fried foods. Eating crackers before you get up in the morning may sound like something your grand-mother would recommend, but it usually works! If you have severe nausea, your pharmacist can prescribe a safe and effective treatment.
If you have minor health problems (e.g. a cold, headaches or constipation), speak to your pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medication or natural health products. There are many products that should not be taken during pregnancy. Your pharmacist can give you some tips to provide relief without medication, or can recommend a safe product when needed.
After giving birth
Your pharmacist can offer support throughout your breastfeeding period, whether it be tips to make breastfeeding easier, help choosing a breast pump, beast care advice, etc. If you cannot breastfeed or choose not to, your pharmacy carries a wide selection of infant formulas.
Babies and children are not mini-adults. They should not be given medication designed for adults. Before giving any over-the-counter medication or natural product to your baby, ask your pharmacist to assess the situation and make recommendations based on your child's specific needs. Little "boo-boos" don't always require medication.
Your baby may develop diaper rash, which is an irritation of the skin of the buttocks and of the genitals. The most common cause is skin contact with urine and feces. Other irritants may also aggravate the rash, such as the soap that is used to wash the baby, or the detergent used to wash cloth diapers. Your pharmacist can suggest a cream to protect your baby's skin, and also help you determine whether irritants are making the problem worse, and how to avoid them.
Don't hesitate to consult your pharmacist - becoming a parent can come with its share of worries, but your pharmacist is there, 7 days a week, to answer your questions and ease your concerns.