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Health During Pregnancy

Important signs to watch for if you are pregnant [hide]
  • Bad cramps or stomach pains that don't go away.
  • Bleeding or a trickle or gush of fluid from your vagina.
  • Lower back pain/pressure or change in lower back pain.
  • A feeling that the baby is pushing down.
  • Contractions or change in the strength or number of them.
  • An increase in the amount of vaginal discharge.
  • Fever, chills, dizziness, vomiting or a bad headache.
  • Blurry vision or spots before your eyes.
  • Sudden or severe swelling of your feet, hand or face.
  • A significant change in your baby's movements.

Go to a hospital right away and contact your doctor/midwife if you have any of these symptoms!

Adapted with permission from:
Best Start: Ontario's Maternal Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre

Revised:Thursday October 09 2014

Medical Concerns

Medication use in pregnancy

Pregnant lady in a blue top

When you are pregnant, it is best to avoid all medication as a general rule. However, there may be occasions when your health care provider will recommend medication during pregnancy. Not every medication poses a risk to your unborn baby. However, some drugs can pass through the placenta and may affect the developing baby.  These can include over the counter drugs, prescription medications as well as street (illegal) drugs.  Since 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, women need to be aware of the possibility of pregnancy throughout their childbearing years.

Over-the-Counter Drugs

There are many medications that women can buy without a prescription. Some women are accustomed to taking medications for headache, heartburn, back pain, constipation or various other discomforts without thinking about the risks of taking medications during pregnancy.  Women should avoid taking over-the-counter drugs, herbal products, health food store supplements or home remedies unless they have discussed them with their doctor, midwife or pharmacist. 

If you have any questions about the safety of any over-the-counter medications, visit Motherisk or call the Motherisk Information Line at 416-813-6780.

Prescription Drugs

Some women may have medical conditions that require them to take prescription drugs regularly. However, there is evidence that health problems during pregnancy and harmful effects on the fetus are related to the use of certain drugs.  A medication that is safer for use in pregnancy may be chosen or the woman may be advised to reduce her dosage or stop using the drug completely.  If drugs are needed during pregnancy, the benefits need to be carefully weighed against the possible risks to both mother and the developing baby.

Women should talk to their doctor/midwife or pharmacist about any prescription drugs that they take. They should always follow instructions carefully regarding starting or stopping medications. Sometimes it is safer to take a prescription medication rather than leave a condition untreated.


Substance Abuse

If a woman is using street (illegal) drugs during pregnancy, it could have harmful effects on the growing baby. These drugs tend to pass through the placenta.  Some drugs can cause a baby to be born with an addiction.  Babies born to mothers who use illegal drugs are usually smaller, delivered early (pre-term birth), tend to be more irritable and/or may have brain damage. It is important for her to tell her physician if she has been using street drugs (e.g., marijuana, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy or inhalants).  At delivery, a baby may go through withdrawal symptoms, so it is vital for the health-care provider to be aware of this possibility for mom and baby to receive the best possible medical care.

Adapted with permission of Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit

For more information:

Region of Peel-Public Health
905-799-7700
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216

For any inquiries regarding medication use during pregnancy
Motherisk 416-813-6780

Additional Resources:

Motherisk
Alcohol and Substance Use Helpline
1-877-327-4636

Toronto Centre for Substance Use in Pregnancy (T-CUP)
St. Joseph's Health Centre 416-530-6830

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
416-595-6111
1-800-463-6273

Peel Works Needle Exchange Program
Mobile Outreach Service 647-225-1623

Breaking the Cycle
If you are using drugs or alcohol and parenting young children under the age of six

Pathways to Healthy Families
Jean Tweed Centre:
A website for people seeking help with substance-abuse and/or problem-gambling issues.



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Revised: Thursday October 09 2014

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