Medications, Cannabis, & Other Drugs
Medications you take during pregnancy may reach the baby through the placenta or in breast milk.
During pregnancy, some common medications such as Ibuprofen (Advil) and Aspirin are not recommended as they can cause complications for a baby. Tylenol is generally considered okay for use in pregnant women when taken at the right dose. See here for more information about common medications and their safety during pregnancy: Medicines during Pregnancy.
To ensure any prescription, over-the counter, and herbal supplements you are taking or thinking of taking are safe and absolutely necessary review the benefits, any risks, and if there are safer alternatives or non-drug treatments worth considering with your health care provider and/or pharmacist.
If you have a health condition such as asthma, depression, high blood pressure, epilepsy, nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, or are receiving treatment with methadone or buprenorphine continue taking your medication to stay healthy. Your health care provider will discuss the benefits and risks and prescribe the safest option needed for you.
Natural health products may include vitamins and minerals, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicine, traditional Chinese and East Indian medicine, probiotics as well as amino and fatty acids. Products that are considered natural can still contain ingredients that could be harmful to your baby. Few have been studied for how well they work and for their safety. Always check with your health care provider first and proceed with caution.
If your health care provider suggests a herbal product to prevent or treat symptoms:
use approved products. Look for the eight-digit Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM) on the label. It identifies products that are licensed and approved for use in Canada. Read the label information so you know what the ingredients are, what it is used for, the dosage, and any known risks or side effects.
What about essential oils?
Essential oils are concentrated oils taken from plants. They are used in aromatherapy, a complementary therapy. The oils are breathed in or applied to the skin to promote health and a sense of wellbeing.
Opinions differ on using essential oils in pregnancy. There isn’t a lot of information on many oils because they have never been tested in pregnant women. Using essential oils is a personal decision. It is always safest to talk to your health care provider first.
Using cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding can be harmful. There are hundreds of chemical substances in the cannabis plant. While there is lots we don’t know, research has shown that cannabis can increase the risk of a baby being born too early and having a low birth weight. Cannabis can also affect a baby’s developing brain and increase the risk of future problems with learning, behaviour, and mental health.
Explore other treatments with your health care provider that don’t carry the risks that cannabis does if you use cannabis for medical reasons.
Do not allow anyone to smoke or vape in your home or around your baby.
If you are having trouble stopping or reducing your cannabis use, help is available. Talk to your health care provider or contact Fourcast.
Risks of Cannabis on Fertility, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Parenting
(Best Start Resource Centre)
If other drugs are part of your life, being pregnant can be a powerful motivator for change. The desire to have a healthy baby can be so strong you may be ready to take some or all of these important first steps.
Admit you use drugs. This can be hard to do. You may worry that you will be judged if you tell anyone. You may also have feelings of shame, guilt, and loneliness, or doubt that you can stop. These worries and feelings are all normal.
Tell a loved one or friend you trust and/or Fourcast that you need help.
It is important to have support as you recover. Talk to your health care provider so he/she can:
- Advise you on the safest way to quit or decrease.
- Provide the right care and treatments.
- Link you to services that will support you, your baby, and your family.
- Consider counselling to help you with your feelings and to make healthy choices. Counselling can be especially helpful if you have experienced partner violence, depression, or trauma.
It’s never too late to stop or decrease using drugs in pregnancy. Know that there are supports to help you on this journey.