Periconception tip #4 of the 10 periconception tips that will help you improve your pregnancy chances and have a healthy baby:

Review all medication you take with your doctor including those that are over-the-counter and those that are prescribed.

Most medications are safe, but there are some which can affect your pregnancy. Do not stop any medications that you need unless you discuss it with your doctor first.

Every morning you sleepily walk to the bathroom medicine cabinet and pull out the same five or six bottles you have been pulling out for years. You take a multi-vitamin with St. John’s Wort to ward off depression and raspberry ketones with quite the caffeine kick to jump-start your day. There’s the prescription medication for your asthma and the over-the-counter medication for allergies – it is hay fever season. As you step back from the medicine cabinet it hits you – can I take these same medications when I’m pregnant? How about before I conceive?

Trying to Conceive and Medications

It is a safe assumption that the medications deemed unsafe for use during pregnancy are also unsafe while you are trying to conceive (TTC), also referred to a preconception. Schedule an appointment with your obstetrician and bring every medication you are currently taking – prescription, supplement and over-the-counter. 

Your doctor will likely give you guidance for common medications and even some less common over-the-counter products, but supplements are a different story. Though medical doctors recognize the benefit of certain supplements like folic acid and DHA during pregnancy, that does not mean all brands and products containing these supplements are safe. The FDA does not review ingredient lists unless consumers report a problem, so you could be taking something more and that something more could harm your fetus later.

When to Make the Preconception Appointment

If you are taking prescription medications you know cannot be taken during pregnancy, make your appointment well in advance of TTC. If can take months to find a new medication that works for you and is safe for baby – in some cases no alternative is available and you must discuss risks versus benefits with your physician. 

What Supplements are Safe During Pregnancy?

Talk to your physician about safe brands and safe supplements you can take during pregnancy. Your doctor may suggest taking a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid and DHA when TTC. The vitamin should contain at least 400 mcg of folic acid. You should NOT take a regular multivitamin in addition to the prenatal vitamin. 

What Medications are Unsafe During Preconception?

Drugs are categorized by the FDA so doctors and patients can learn more about safety in pregnancy. Pregnancy categories A and B are generally considered safe. Pregnancy category C is on the borderline and should be discussed with your doctor. Pregnancy categories D and X are reserved for medications and drugs known to cause birth defects or health risks for the fetus or pregnant woman. Drugs falling into category X should NEVER be used during pregnancy and may require significant time to clear the body prior to conception.

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