Medication during pregnancy is a very complex issue that needs to be tacked based on sound knowledge and experience. Some women may get sick during pregnancy and some become pregnant even while having chronic illness. Sometimes physicians may have to make a difficult decision of whether to continue or stop the medication during pregnancy.
It is risky to study the effect of new medications in pregnant women and even more risky to assess the effects of medication on the developing fetus.
Challenges of Chronic Illness during Pregnancy
Once pregnant, the chronic illness specialist may transfer the care of the pregnant women to her obstetrician. Now the obstetrician may or may not have sufficient knowledge in managing specific illness and had to provide both illness care and pregnancy care. Not only that, obstetrician had to handle two patients, the mother and the fetus. She had to make perfect decisions with regard to both the management of pregnancy and management of chronic illness simultaneously.
Many pregnant women are faced with having to decide whether or not to take certain medications to manage an acute or chronic illness or serious disease. If you are facing such a decision, the first things to consider are:
- Pregnant mother’s overall health
- The seriousness of the illness and its present condition
- The potential risk to the fetus
- A realistic assessment of the benefits of taking the medicine versus the overall risks
Making Informed Decisions
Taking a medication during pregnancy is a difficult decision and it should be carefully weighed depending on various factors including the potential risks to the developing fetus. More so, the risks of not treating the condition.
The pregnant mother should have a detailed discussion with her physician and should make her decision after knowing the details about the following:
- What are the risks to mother’s own health if medication is discontinued? How will that affect the fetus?
- Will there be any long term risks to the fetus if treatment is not taken? Will the child develop chronic illness in the early stages of child growth due to transfer of disease cells?
- Is there another option that is generally considered safer in pregnancy that may have the same therapeutic effect?
- Is this a temporary situation or do I have to take this medication for a long period of time post pregnancy?
- How does the stage of my pregnancy impact the potential effects of this medication?
- What are the properties of this medication and what are the potential side effects for me and my fetus?
- How long does it take to move out of my body?
- Are the molecules small enough to pass through to my fetus? Is there a way to prevent that?
- How my age or health condition will vary with medication? How it will impact the infant with age?
- How the medication will impact the immunity of the infant? Will it affect the infant’s immunity adversely?
- What are the symptoms to know that medication has passed onto infant’s body?
Most importantly, when you experience an adverse incident with any medication, you should immediately contact your physician to avoid your infant getting affected.