Medication Use in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Many medications are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Please ask either your family physician or ourselves if you have questions regarding a specific medication. The resources listed below will help guide you regarding safe medications to take for common symptoms of pregnancy, including nausea and vomiting, and during cold and flu season.
**NEW HEALTH CANADA WARNING REGARDING RANITIDINE USE IN PREGNANCY**
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD, or more commonly known as "heartburn") is very common in pregnancy and can often contribute to nausea and vomiting. Ranitidine (available by prescription or over-the-counter as "Zantac") is a very common medication used in pregnancy for GERD. Health Canada has recently recommended that companies stop distributing ranitidine due to finding small amounts of an impurity known as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). NDMA can be dangerous if taken in large amounts over a lifetime.
It is likely that taking a short course of ranitidine during your pregnancy previously was not harmful to you or your fetus. However, until more is known, we are recommending that our patients do not take ranitidine in their pregnancy.
To help manage GERD in pregnancy, we recommend the following measures:
- eat small, frequent meals
- avoid lying down immediately after meals
- avoid foods known to trigger GERD, such as spicy, acidic or fatty foods, caffeine, smoking and alcohol
If these are not helping, you can try over-the-counter antacids such as aluminum hydroxide and magnisium hydroxide (Maalox), calcium carbonate (Tums) or alginic compound (Gaviscon). If you are still suffering from GERD, please speak to us about prescription alternatives.
Since Motherrisk closed in April 2019, we recommend using www.mothertobaby.org for information regarding safety of medications in pregnancy and breastfeeding - as well as the resources listed below.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Pocket Guide
Published by the Université de Montréal and the CHU Sainte-Justine Mother and Child University Hospital Centre
A handy pocket guide regarding safe over-the-counter medications for common complaints of pregnancy – available for download onto your handheld device in pdf format (2013 version - an updated one currently under revision)
Please see the following other websites for good information regarding medication use in pregnancy:
CDC (US) Treating for Two