When you’re pregnant, you share a lot with your growing baby. Oxygen and nourishment pass from you to your baby through the placenta, an organ in your uterus that acts as your baby’s lifeline. Medications you take can also pass to your baby. Most drugs may be safe for you, but there’s a chance that some may harm your developing baby.
Still, it’s not uncommon to need medications during pregnancy. If you get a bacterial infection while you’re pregnant, you may need to take an antibiotic, such as amoxicillin, to treat the infection.
Amoxicillin is a prescription drug that’s used to treat certain kinds of bacterial infections. These include pneumonia, bronchitis, and urinary tract infections (UTI). They also include skin, throat, and ear infections. This drug works by stopping the growth of harmful bacteria in your body. This in turn clears your infection.
Here’s what you need to know about the safety of amoxicillin during pregnancy. You’ll also find possible side effects the drug may cause, as well as how an infection can affect your pregnancy.
Safety during pregnancy
Amoxicillin is in the penicillin family of antibiotics. Some antibiotics are safe to take during pregnancy, while others are not.
Amoxicillin is considered a pregnancy category B drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That means it’s considered safe to take while pregnant. The FDA assigned this category to help doctors understand whether or not amoxicillin can cause birth defects when taken by pregnant women. In animal studies, there were no reports of harm to developing babies from amoxicillin. This drug is considered low risk if a woman takes it in any trimester of pregnancy.
There are other antibiotics that are also considered safe to take during pregnancy. These include clindamycin and erythromycin. They also include other drugs in the same class as amoxicillin, such as ampicillin or penicillin. Your doctor will decide which antibiotic is best and safest for you to take during your pregnancy.
You should start to feel better a few days after you start treatment with amoxicillin. Take your drug exactly as directed by your doctor. You should not skip doses or stop taking the drug if you feel better. Make sure you finish your full course of treatment. If you don’t take it as directed, your infection may come back. This may also cause resistance to amoxicillin. That means that the drug may not work to treat a similar infection you may have in the future.
The most common side effects of amoxicillin include the following:
- upset stomach
If this drug upsets your stomach, try taking it with food. Also be sure to take it with a full glass of water.
In some cases, amoxicillin can cause more serious side effects. Tell your doctor right away if you have any severe side effects. These include:
- allergic reactions
- bloody or watery diarrhea
- lack of energy
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness
- yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eyes
Antibiotics can cause severe diarrhea. If you have watery diarrhea two or three times or more per day for at least two days, or if you have stomach cramping, call your doctor right away. You may have a second infection that can be dangerous during pregnancy. Your doctor will prescribe another type of antibiotic for this issue.
If you don’t treat a bacterial infection, it can become serious. Only antibiotics can cure an infection.
Amoxicillin is considered a low-risk drug when taken at any stage of pregnancy. Your doctor will decide if amoxicillin is the most appropriate treatment for you. This decision depends on the type of infection you have and how long you need treatment with antibiotics.
Taking too much of an antibiotic, even the ones that are considered safe during pregnancy, can be harmful to you and your baby.
Bacterial infections and pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body protects your baby from many illnesses. These include the common cold or a stomach bug. But some infections, including bacterial infections, can pass through the placenta and harm your baby.
If an infection passes through the placenta, it can make your baby very sick. Some infections can cause birth defects or breathing problems or keep your baby from growing well. If left untreated, certain infections can also make you more likely to have a miscarriage or have other problems with your pregnancy. If you think you may have an infection, talk to your doctor.
Talk with your doctor
If you need to take amoxicillin during pregnancy, communicate with your doctor. Be sure to keep the following in mind:
- Make sure to tell your doctor about any other medications you’re taking (prescription or over-the-counter). This can help your doctor watch for any risky drug interactions.
- You should take the drug exactly how it’s prescribed and until the prescription is finished. Stopping treatment early may cause bacteria to become resistant.
- Call your doctor if you do not feel better after finishing the course of your drug.
- Do not take amoxicillin if you’re allergic to amoxicillin, penicillin, or cephalosporin antibiotics such as cefazolin, cefaclor, and cephalexin.
Following these steps can help ensure that you keep you and your pregnancy as healthy as possible.