Over the counter antibiotics have sure made us our own doctors. If we have a mild fever or cough and cold, we don’t even think twice before popping an antibiotic pill. But can pregnant women also do the same? Not really! Taking antibiotics during pregnancy is not entirely safe. Let’s find out why it is so and things to keep in mind before taking them.
During pregnancy, a woman needs to be very careful about what she puts in her body as it can have a direct impact on the to-be-born baby. Hence, antibiotics are something that should not be taken without a doctor recommending them.
Generally, women are given lots of instructions to be careful with medicines and remedies during pregnancy but recently there has been a rise in consumption of over-the-counter medications which have resulted in several health-related issues for pregnant women as well as their growing fetus.
Why are antibiotics not safe for pregnant women?
Dr Mannan Gupta, Gynaecologist, ELANTIS Healthcare, explains that during pregnancy, an organ named placenta develops in the uterus. The placenta is connected to the baby through the umbilical cord and through which a developing fetus receives oxygen, blood and nutrients. He further explains that “placenta also acts as a filter, but in some cases the medicines or antibiotics consumed by pregnant women can pass through this filter and have severe harmful effects on the growth and development of the fetus.”
Side effects of taking antibiotics during pregnancy
Pregnancy is a difficult period of nine months where the immune system starts acting differently and is exposed to a plethora of infections resulting in the need for antibiotics. Dr Gupta advises that while not every antibiotic is harmful for the developing baby or the mother, it is still advised to consult a specialist before consuming any medicine. “Some antibiotics are known to cause side effects in growth and development of the baby like slower bone growth or stained teeth and side effects like nausea, diarrhea or bloating observed in the mother,” says Dr Gupta.
Another side effect as explained by the gynecologist is that in some rare cases, overdose of antibiotics can also lead to development of antibiotic resistance in the unborn baby. This can make the bacteria become resistant to the medicine, making the infection even harder to treat.
Some safety measures, as prescribed by Dr Gupta, to be kept in mind while consuming antibiotics during pregnancy are:
• Consult a doctor before consuming any medication or antibiotics
• Avoid any antibiotics, especially in the first trimester.
• All antibiotics should be of low dosage until advised otherwise by your doctor.
• Minor conditions like the common cold shouldn’t be treated with antibiotics. Instead, try home remedies like hot showers, inhaling steam and warm water gargles.
So, to-be-moms should keep these points in mind before reaching out for OTC medicines the next time.