Is It Safe To Take Antibiotics While Pregnant?

Is It Safe To Take Antibiotics While Pregnant?

While it can be scary to consider taking antibiotics while pregnant, some of them are considered safe for you and your unborn baby.

When you are pregnant, a lot of planning and careful preparation is required to avoid any unnecessary complications.

This might comprise regular visits to the OB/GYN, getting a prenatal DNA test during pregnancy to screen for possible birth defects, and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine.

However, some medication might still be required from time to time.

One popular type of medication is antibiotics, which many pregnant women are wary of. A lifesaving drug in general situations, it is rather complicated to use it safely during pregnancy.

So we will thoroughly examine whether it is safe to take them while you’re expecting a baby.

Why Are Antibiotics Prescribed During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through numerous changes, leaving them vulnerable to certain illnesses and conditions.

For example, if you have a severe sinus or respiratory infection, then it would warrant the use of antibiotics, as leaving them untreated might be dangerous.

Similarly, they are also excellent solutions to treat urinary tract infections, kidney infections, sexually transmitted diseases, or even bacterial vaginosis.

Apart from these whole hosts of illnesses that can befall you during pregnancy, antibiotics also play a key role in bringing down intrapartum fever.

For the uninitiated, intrapartum fever can occur during labor, making the painful process even more complicated.

They are also prescribed during C-sections as a form of preventive measure.

Hence, it is undeniable that antibiotics play a key role in helping women during pregnancy. However, not all forms of antibiotics are considered safe for pregnant women.

Is It Safe To Take Antibiotics While Pregnant?

As an overall category, antibiotics are extremely useful. However, pregnancy can complicate things a little.

Essentially, many antibiotic medications are perfectly safe for pregnant women, while others can cause extreme side effects and even impact the development of the fetus.

Although, these effects also depend on the dosage, the duration of the course, and the gestational age. Other factors include changes in metabolism and immunity, which can also affect the risk factors significantly.

To make the choice easier, the Food and Drug Administration has released a list of Pharmaceutical Pregnancy Categories under which all antibiotics fall. These categories are A, B, C, D, and X.

While category A is completely safe for pregnant women, category X poses maximum adverse effects with no benefits. Categories B to D fall in between these two extremes.

Hence, it’s vital to consult your OB/GYN and identify the category of the antibiotics before consuming them.

What Precautions To Take When Having Antibiotics In Pregnancy?

Even if some antibiotics pose certain risks, they can be successfully used to treat infections, provided you take the following precautions:

  • If you have recently conceived and have encountered an infection, inform your doctor beforehand. This is important as the medication prescribed during pregnancy is vastly different from standard cases. In this way, you can ensure the safety of your unborn child.
  • Even if you do know the right antibiotics for your current condition, do not self-medicate. This is because the dosage and duration of taking the drug can vary significantly when you are pregnant. So always take the medicine only when it is prescribed by the doctor. You should ideally take a second opinion too, just to be certain.
  • Don’t self-diagnose your condition when you are pregnant. Remember, antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections. Viral infections such as cold and flu require different medications. Therefore, always let a doctor confirm your diagnosis.
  • Lastly, please make sure to finish your prescribed dose. If you stop taking the medicines when the symptoms go away, the infection may come back stronger. It might also become resistant to the antibiotics, further complicating the situation.

Safe And Unsafe Antibiotics In Pregnancy

With a clearer understanding of different FDA classifications and precautions to take, here is a list of drugs that are safe and risky during pregnancy.

Safe Antibiotics

Penicillins: A category B drug, some of the most common antibiotics under this umbrella are  Ampicillin and Amoxicillin. They can also be combined with Clavulanate and Sulbactam to treat certain infections.

Cephalosporins: If you are unresponsive or allergic to penicillin, doctors might prescribe this category B drug.

Carbapenems: This includes medicines such as Ertapenem, Meropenem, and Doripenem. Carbapenems are usually prescribed for women who are unresponsive or allergic to both penicillins and cephalosporins.

Unsafe Antibiotics

Aminoglycosides: A category D antibiotic, some variations, such as Streptomycin, can cause deafness in children and must be avoided.

Tetracyclines: Another group of category D drugs, Tetracyclines can pose a big risk for the child, causing permanent discoloration of bones and teeth. It can also cause liver problems for the mother.

Fluoroquinolones: These drugs can affect the heart and central nervous system of the child. Comprising medicines like Ofloxacin, Ciprofloxacin, and Levofloxacin, they are only prescribed under dire circumstances.

What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Antibiotics?

Despite using pregnancy-safe antibiotics, they can still cause a few minor or major side effects.

Some of the most common ones include the development of rashes, dizziness, feelings of nausea, yeast infections, and even diarrhea.

It is also possible to develop less overt symptoms such as stomach pains, bloating, and loss of appetite.

Apart from regular side effects, if you are allergic to particular antibiotics, such as penicillins and cephalosporins, you can develop more severe reactions such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, anaphylaxis, and even loss of consciousness.

Hence, it’s important to keep a close watch on your condition while taking this medicine.


In the end, taking antibiotics while pregnant is a nuanced situation, requiring careful monitoring from the doctor.

Fortunately, most OB/GYN are well-versed with the potential risks and side effects of these drugs, so you are in safe hands.

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