Pregnancy and medicines

Some medicines, including some common painkillers, can harm your baby's health.

To be sure a medicine is safe in pregnancy:

  • always check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist before taking any medicine
  • make sure your doctor, dentist or other healthcare professional knows you’re pregnant before they prescribe anything or give you treatment
  • talk to your doctor immediately if you take regular medication, ideally before you start trying for a baby or as soon as you find out you are pregnant
  • use as few over-the-counter medicines as possible
  • if you are taking prescription medication for stopping smoking, stop taking it immediately and talk to your doctor/midwife/stop smoking advisor

Not all 'natural' remedies are safe in pregnancy. Tell your pharmacist and midwife or doctor if you are using herbal, homeopathic or aromatherapy remedies

Stay away from illegal drugs

Using illegal drugs and abusing prescription drugs during pregnancy can have a serious effect on your unborn baby. 

It can slow your baby’s growth in the womb and increase your chances of having a premature birth and a low birth weight baby. This in turn can lead to other problems including the risk of cot death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

If you are dependent on certain drugs, the baby will be born dependent on these too. The baby can then develop what is known as ‘Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome’. This is a condition where the baby shows signs and symptoms of withdrawal. Baby withdrawals usually last a few days or weeks, but they can go on for a number of months.

It is advised to avoid all drugs during pregnancy apart from those prescribed to you by a health professional. If illegal drugs are part of your life, getting help can really improve the outlook for you and your baby.

Help and support

If you use drugs or you think you have a substance misuse problem please speak to:

  • your maternity team
  • GP
  • or the Aspire Drug and Alcohol Services on 01302 730956

For further information, please contact us: 

Last updated: 28 February 2017 15:09:35