Now that you’re pregnant, you’re super-safe about everything that goes into your body. You’re all about organic produce, and you don’t even borrow your bestie’s liquid bronzer if you’re not 100 percent sure about its safety. Okay, maybe you don’t go that far. But you’re not into taking any serious chances. So when it comes to prescription medication, you aren’t about to start popping pills without knowing what’s what. Good news: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a system that can set you straight. Here’s the lowdown on what you need to know about meds, prescription labels, and your baby’s safety.
1. Say goodbye to the FDA’s old alphabet. If you were pregnant prior to June 30, 2015, you had to pay attention to a bit of a different medication labeling system. Gone are the days when meds fell under the categories A, B, C, D, and X. The FDA is replacing this old-school system with something newer and (naturally) better.
2. Check out the new deal. Swapping out the five-letter system means giving moms-to-be a new one. The revised labeling will provide more comprehensive info when it comes to each medication’s safety. It will also include contact information for pregnancy exposure registries, which collect and maintain data on the effects of medications on pregnant women.
3. Get specific with subsections. Along with dismantling the old five-letter category system, the new labels add in an entirely new subsection. In the olden days of medication labeling (okay, a few years ago), you had Pregnancy, Labor & Delivery, and Nursing Mothers. In the new system, the Pregnancy subsection still stands, but Labor & Delivery now falls under it. Nursing Mothers are moved to Lactation, and there’s a brand-new Females & Males of Reproductive Potential subsection.
4. It’s already in effect. The June 30, 2015 launch date has already passed: Prescription meds and biologic products submitted to the FDA after this date have to start out with the new labeling system. But drugs/biologics approved after June 30, 2001 can phase in the new system gradually over time. As manufacturers comply, they’ll need to start removing old labels and using updated ones.
5. Customer confusion prompted changes. Mamas in the US trusted the old letter-based system for years. And now the FDA suddenly thinks the labels aren’t good enough? Don’t freak if you took meds prior to 2015. The old labels weren’t inaccurate, misguided, or wrong. But they were confusing — and there’s where the problem lies. The old system was supposedly too simplistic, and it didn’t adequately address all of the issues, research, and information now out there.
6. Fertility has a voice now too. You probably caught that there’s a new subsection category — Females and Males of Reproductive Potential. Now labels include info on how medications can impact things like birth control effectiveness, ability to conceive, and pregnancy testing.
7. Always ask a pro. Whether we’re talking about the old system or the new style, your medical providers are the in-the-know experts you should rely on. Reading labels shouldn’t be some sort of Googled guesswork. If you have any doubts, questions, or concerns, always talk to your doc, midwife, or pharmacist. This includes when you’re trying to conceive, during pregnancy, or while you’re nursing.
8. Over-the-counter (OTC) isn’t included. When you hit the superstore and pick up a mega-bottle of ibuprofen, don’t expect to see the FDA’s new labeling system. It only applies to prescription meds and biologics. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to take anything and everything OTC. Again, always ask your medical provider before taking any medication or supplement — OTC or otherwise.
How do you decide which meds to take while pregnant? Tweet us your thoughts @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty)