Take Care With Drugs When Pregnant
Drugs can have beneficial or harmful effects not only on a pregnant mother but also on her unborn child.
If drugs — including tobacco, alcohol, everyday medicines such as painkillers, as well as prescribed medicines and illegal drugs — are taken by the mother they are passed on to the fetus through the placenta.
The effect that drugs have on an unborn child depends on factors such as the amount taken, the stage of pregnancy and also on the mother's individual body make-up. A baby is at greatest risk during the first three months of pregnancy so be extra careful at this stage.
In some cases, your doctor may decide it is better for your health and your baby's to prescribe you certain drugs but only your doctor can make that decision.
The greatest precaution a woman can take by herself to ensure the best outcome of her pregnancy is to give up smoking for the whole pregnancy. However, stopping smoking at any stage will benefit the baby. Partners should also stop smoking because it is just as easy to absorb smoke in the air which is in turn passed to the baby.
Normal weight gain and development of a baby depend on a good oxygen supply. Nicotine and carbon monoxide cut down the supply and retard a baby's growth. Smoking mothers take higher risks with their pregnancy and the chance of problems occurring to you increases with the number of cigarettes that you smoke each day.
It is now thought that a regular intake of more than a small amount of alcohol (more than two standard drinks a day) can cause damage to a developing baby. Regular and heavy drinking, especially in the first three months, may cause mental retardation and slow physical growth.
The main drug in coffee, tea, cola and chocolate drinks is caffeine, but you have no reason to worry about tea and coffee if you drink normal amounts.
However, some research has found a link between caffeine and miscarriage when 600mg or more is consumed daily. The amount of caffeine in tea and coffee varies, but on average this amounts to six cups of percolated coffee, eight cups of instant coffee and 12 cups of medium strength tea. If you regularly drink more than this, then cut down.
A good balance of vitamins and minerals is very important during pregnancy but too much or too little of certain vitamins may harm your baby. The ones to be careful of overdoing are the fat-soluble vita mins — A, D, E and K. Also, large doses of vitamin C (more than 1.000mg daily) should be avoided as problems sometimes arise when the baby's supply of vitamin C is reduced