Is it Safe to Take Antibiotics While Pregnant?

Is it Safe to Take Antibiotics While Pregnant?
Published : Oct 11, 2023
Last Updated : Feb 06, 2024

Some medicines may reach the baby when you take antibiotic drugs during pregnancy. Drug toxins may pass to the baby through an organ known as the placenta, which supplies the developing baby with all the essential nutrients, oxygen, and blood.

In pregnancy, the placenta works as a filter for the baby, but some medicines may pass through it. So, a mother needs to be careful while taking prescription medications that can be toxic for a developing baby. One must discuss the potential risks of the drugs during pregnancy with a doctor. 

You might need antibiotics if you fall ill during pregnancy, especially with bacterial infections. A wide range of antibiotics is available to treat bacterial infections caused by harmful bacteria.

Depending on the type of bacterial infection, a particular class of antibiotics is usually prescribed.

Some antibiotics are safe during pregnancy, but some can be unsafe and require caution. Their effects may cause complications in the baby's development or other health problems. 

This article lists antibiotics that can be unsafe to take during pregnancy. Also, know what risks they may cause when taking them in this situation.

Moreover, know which antibiotics medicines are safe to take during pregnancy. And get all the information on how to take them safely during pregnancy.

Antibiotics that are unsafe during pregnancy:

Here is a list of antibiotics that can be unsafe for the developing baby when you use them during pregnancy. It includes antibiotics such as:

  • Tetracyclines
  • Streptomycin
  • Aminoglycosides
  • Metronidazole
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Kanamycin

Following Antibiotic treatment can be toxic and harmful to your baby if you are a pregnant woman. They may cause side effects like stained teeth or slow down bone growth.

Risks of Taking Antibiotics While Pregnant:

When you are pregnant, your immune system works differently. During this period, your body can catch infection easily, and you might get sick. The infection during pregnancy not only affects you but can also be unsafe for your baby. In some cases, this infection can cause a life-threatening sickness. If an infection is not treated promptly, it may lead to early lalabornewborn death, and an increased risk of stillbirth and congenital disabilities. Also, the effects of this infection can cause problems in the organs of your body. 

Your doctor will prescribe certain antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection. It would be best if you took these antibiotics as instructed for you. A bacterial infection that is most likely to appear includes:

  • Appendicitis
  • Urinary tract infections(UTI)
  • Kidney infection
  • Syphilis
  • Group B Streptococcus
  • Listeria
  • Gallbladder infection
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Placenta and amniotic fluid infection

Taking certain antibiotics during pregnancy under these infections may pose a risk to the baby. For example, Tetracyclines can develop the risk of over-bone growth and discolour a developing baby's teeth. Due to these risks, the use of Tetracyclines is not recommended after the fifth week of pregnancy. 

The use of Sulfonamides may pose a mild risk of heart conditions and cause cleft lip or palate and jaundice. Using this antibiotic during the first trimester of pregnancy is not recommended as it may cause birth defects. Also, pregnant women should avoid using it near the delivery time. 

These antibiotics can cause some potential side effects during their use. Usually, they have adverse impacts on the stomach and intestines, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Throwing up
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite

Read More - Diarrhea Problem Associated with Antibiotics

Some people with allergies to these antibiotics may also face allergic reactions such as:

  • Swelling
  • Tightness of the throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Losing consciousness
  • Wheezing
  • Feeling sick
  • Rash and Itchy skin
  • Coughing

Anaphylaxis is a severe condition associated with an allergic reaction to a medication. It can be a sign of Anaphylaxis if you experience symptoms like swelling, tightness in the throat, and difficulty breathing. You may need immediate medical attention if this severe allergic condition appears.

Antibiotic resistance can also seriously impact the developing baby's health. An overuse or not taking an antibiotic is a proper way. The condition can cause bacteria to become resistant to your antibiotic, and the infection gets more challenging to treat. 

Knowing the exact cause of illness, taking antibiotics for viral infections may not help. Also, doing this may lead to conditions like superbugs. The sickness may get severe during such situations, and it can be unsafe for the baby during pregnancy. 

Antibiotics that are safe during pregnancy: 

Not all antibiotics are unsafe during pregnancy; many are safe under these conditions. Antibiotics such as:

  • Ampicillin
  • Penicillin
  • Erythromycin(macrolide antibiotics)
  • Clindamycin
  • Amoxicillin

 How to Safely Take Antibiotics in Pregnancy

The first step is to take your antibiotics exactly as instructed by your doctor. Depending on your medical condition, a doctor prescribes a medicine that works ideally for you. They will review several factors before suggesting antibiotics. These factors are as follows:

  • Prescribe you the lowest dose possible
  • Direct you to use only one type of antibiotics
  • Prescribe your antibiotics for the shortest time possible
  • Testing to confirm the type of infection you have
  • Only prescribe antibiotics when necessary
  • Warning about drug interactions
  • Explaining how to take antibiotics correctly
  • Not recommended for their use in the first trimester

Bacterial infections and pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body protects the unborn baby from certain illnesses. Whether it's a common cold or a stomach bug, your body tries hard to prevent harm to the baby. However, some infections, especially bacterial infections, can pass through the placenta and may affect your baby.

If an infection passes through the placenta, it may make your baby sick. Some infections may pose risks like congenital disabilities and breathing problems or keep your baby from growing well. If your health remains untreated, then potentially, it may harm your baby, too. Also, while using medications for the treatment, you need to be cautious as they may also affect your body. Even certain infections can be more likely to cause a miscarriage or other problems during the pregnancy. Talk to your doctor if you think you have caught a bacterial or any other infection.

Use other safe remedies during pregnancy:

During a common cold or other mild conditions, your doctor will be less likely to advise you on antibiotics. They may suggest other OTC medicines that can be safe to take during pregnancy. You can also try following self-care remedies to treat common and mild illnesses. For example, you can try remedies like:

  • Taking a hot shower
  • Saline nasal spray
  • Warm salt water gargle
  • Sinus steam

You must consult a doctor if you do not get relief even after using these self-care tips.

The use of some antibiotics is entirely unsafe during pregnancy, for example, Teratogenic. Teratogenic may cause risks like slowing the growth of babies' bones, hypoplasia, and discoloration of their teeth. Also, antibiotics like Streptomycin and Kanamycin(commonly prescribed for pulmonary tuberculosis) may cause side effects during pregnancy. They may cause hearing loss. 

Talk to a Medical Provider

Communicate with your doctor for the right course of action in case of infection. Discuss all your medicine's potential risks and benefits over your health and certain conditions like pregnancy. Take care of drug interactions, and make sure to remember that you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant before you receive any medical prescription. Ask your doctor even if you are taking any over-the-counter drugs during pregnancy. 

You must be aware of any allergies you have and prevent substances that can cause adverse effects on your health. Inform your doctor about your medical history. Whether you have kidney or liver disease, a history of hepatitis, jaundice, or mononucleosis, you are informed about every health issue. Familiarizing your doctor with your medical history might help them prescribe antibiotics accordingly. They will ensure that you do not face any risk to your health, even if you are pregnant. 

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