Medicines and your family

Mother and child with GP

Use of medicines in pregnancy
Although many medicines may be taken safely during pregnancy, others may pass to the baby and could harm them. Always talk to your GP or other healthcare professional such as your pharmacist or midwife to obtain advice, especially if you need to take a medicine regularly (for instance to treat a long-term condition).

The best advice is to avoid all medicines during the first three months of pregnancy where possible, unless specifically prescribed by your doctor.

Medicines, including herbal remedies, should be taken during pregnancy only if the expected benefit to you is greater than any risk to your baby. It is safer to avoid taking any non-essential medicines.

Any medicine that your doctor prescribes or that you buy will have information on whether or not it may be used safely during pregnancy. The information will be on the product label and/or in the patient information leaflet, and it is important that you read both carefully before taking the medicine.

If you have any questions or concerns about the safe use of any medicines, including those you may have taken before you knew you were pregnant, you should speak with your pharmacist or doctor.

Medicines and your baby or child

If your doctor or pharmacist has prescribed a medicine for your baby or child, remember to:

  • ask your doctor or pharmacist what the medicine is for, how often to give it, and what side-effects the medicine may have so you can look out for them
  • read the enclosed leaflet for the medicine, which contains important information such as how much to give your baby or child and when, and any potential side-effects the medicine might cause.

If you plan to give your baby or child a medicine you have bought:

  • check that it is suitable to give to babies and children—the medicine should state what age it is recommended for
  • speak to a pharmacist if you have any doubt about the suitability of a particular medicine for your baby or child
  • take care to give your baby or child the correct recommended dose for their age or weight— remember that your child's needs may change over time as they grow
  • consider using an oral syringe (available from a pharmacy) if your baby or child finds it difficult to take medicine from a spoon.

Always remember:

  • store medicines out of the reach and sight of children—a lockable cupboard is ideal
  • check the storage requirements for the medicine—for instance some should be stored in the fridge, but make sure they stay away from the reach of tiny hands; old or unused medicines can be returned to a pharmacy for safe disposal
  • never give your baby or child more than the maximum recommended dose of medicine
  • never give your baby or child a medicine prescribed for someone else
  • speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any doubts about the health of your baby or child, or if you have any questions about medicines for your family.

Page last modified: 22 January 2010