Drugs and conception - preparing for pregnancy

Fertile debate
Fertile debate 

Make an appointment to see your doctor to discuss whether any medications you are taking could cause problems with conception.

Check prescribed medications
Make an appointment to see your doctor to discuss whether any medications you are taking could cause problems with conception, or whether you will have any special needs once you are pregnant.

You should also check with your doctor as to whether or not you should be taking folate supplements if you are using prescription medications.


Remember, do not simply discontinue prescribed medications without first seeking advice from your doctor.

Other medications (drugs)
If you take any drugs or medication, whether prescribed or not, you should check with your doctor what effect they will have on both your fertility (when trying to get pregnant) and on the development of your baby (once you are pregnant).

If you take pain killers, whether for headaches or other pain, you should also check with your doctor whether these are safe to use once you are pregnant.

You should stop using any recreational drugs prior to conception. But do not just quit - first talk to your doctor about your current usage and the best method of changing your drug habit safely. For some drugs, it may be safer to reduce doses over a period of time with close supervision.

Some of the drugs to be avoided if you are trying to conceive or are already pregnant include:

Smoking affects your fertility, can harm your unborn baby and can impact on your newborn.


It is best to avoid alcohol throughout your pregnancy. Research cannot confirm a safe level of alcohol intake so quitting alcohol altogether is the safest choice.

Used during pregnancy, tranquillisers can result in withdrawal symptoms for your baby after birth. The symptoms can include sleeplessness, shakiness, restlessness and feeding problems. Talk to your doctor about cutting back tranquilliser-use safely.

Treat Marijuana-use the same way you would treat smoking when trying to conceive and during pregnancy - quit!

Cocaine will seriously affect your baby during pregnancy, increasing the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, and reducing supply of blood to the baby which can cause death, blockages in the bowel or a brain condition similar to a stroke in an older person. The baby can also suffer withdrawal symptoms at birth.

Heroin use can result in complications such as miscarriage, toxaemia infections, premature breaking of the waters and pre-term labour. Risk of stillbirth and of delivering a low birth-weight baby also increases with heroin use.

In addition, heroin use is often associated with poor health and under nourishment of the pregnant mother, and sharing of needles poses the risk of hepatitis and HIV which can infect the baby.

It is vital that you seek help to stop using heroin.

Methadone is used to provide a controlled withdrawal from heroin but the use of methadone can still have negative effects on the child.

Amphetamines increase the risk of birth defects if taken in early pregnancy. If taken later in pregnancy, the baby may be born hyperactive and may suffer withdrawal symptoms later.

Barbituates can cause withdrawal symptoms in the baby at birth including sleeplessness, feeding problems and shakiness. Withdrawal from barbituates during pregnancy can be dangerous, and you should seek advice from you doctor about how to do so.

LSD can cause miscarriage, damage to your chromosomes and damage to your immune system.

Ecstasy has stimulant and psychedelic effects which are similar to those induced by speed. These drugs produce a rise in pulse rate and blood pressure and a rise in body temperature and increased muscle tension which can cause serious side effects in pregnancy. They should be avoided.

Need help?
For more information about the effects of drug use or to find out where to get help to stop using drugs speak to your doctor or contact;

ADIS (Alcohol and Drug Information Service) onĀ 02 9331 2111 or 1800 422 599.

Chat to other Essential Baby members in our forums about drugs and conception.