Loperamide In Pregnancy: Should You Consider Or Not?
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There are many speculations regarding the use of Loperamide in pregnancy among pregnant women, whether it is safe or not. Pregnancy is a tumultuous time of your life, your immune system is weak, and your body is almost always uncomfortable. This is also when your baby is being nourished, so extreme care must be taken about what you consume. This includes medication. Some medications can be harmful to your baby. This is why you must take extreme care and be cautious about the meds you decide to consume to treat any condition you may face during pregnancy.
What Is Loperamide?
During pregnancy, one of the most common conditions faced by a woman is problems with the stomach. On the one hand, you may face constipation, while on the other, you may face a bout of diarrhoea. This is where loperamide comes in handy. Loperamide is a drug that is commonly known to combat diarrhoea and is known as an antidiarrhoeal (1).
Is Loperamide Safe in Pregnancy?
Loperamide during pregnancy should not be consumed unless prescribed, it acts as a last resort against an extremely bad case of diarrhoea, the consumption should also only be considered based on the period of gestation. Doctors believe there is little evidence to say loperamide and pregnancy problems are directly related to one another, it is still, however, considered a prescription priority drug, which means it should not be consumed, under any circumstances, without a physician’s approval.
How Does it Work?
Loperamide is a drug that functions by lowering your intestine’s activity. This gives the small intestine time to absorb more water and minerals resulting in firm, healthier-looking stools. This is because when the intestine’s activity is lowered, the bowel movements slow down, giving your small intestine the required gap it needs to create healthier stool (2).
When Does Gynaecologist Prescribe Loperamide for Pregnant Women?
Your OB/GYN may prescribe this medication under some circumstances, even if you’re pregnant:
- If you have chronic diarrhoea.
- If you are facing persistent gastrointestinal problems.
- You are diagnosed with IBS or irritable bowel syndrome.
- You are facing severe digestive issues.
- You have undergone a surgical procedure called an ileostomy, which is done to open up the belly.
- Your metabolism is impaired for any reason.
How to Take it?
It is extremely important to note that medication, especially during pregnancy, should be approached with caution. Here are some tips on how to take medication during this time of your life:
- Loperamide should always be taken orally, never attempt treatments by yourself.
- Never exceed your prescribed dosage.
- Consume the medication a half hour after eating.
- Talk to your doctor before starting the medication and inform them about all other medications you are taking so there is no chance of one medicine reacting with the other.
- Do not consume alcohol while on the medication.
Side Effects of Taking Loperamide When Pregnant
Loperamide is a medication that can have some side effects and risks, these are because your body isn’t used to the medication yet. This should naturally correct itself once your body adapts to the medication. It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor about the pill before taking it. Some of the side effects are (3):
- You may have a dry mouth initially.
- Nausea can be common with this medicine.
- In some cases, you may feel dizzy.
- You may experience some extra fatigue.
- In case of an allergic reaction, you may see a rash on your skin.
- In rare cases, your intestines may swell.
- You may experience bouts of constipation.
We strongly recommend you talk to a doctor for in-depth information about side effects and how to combat them.
What If You Were Already on Loperamide Before Pregnancy?
If you were on loperamide before you got pregnant and still feel the need to use it, consult your doctor before doing so (4). It is recommended that you do not proceed with the medication without their approval. If, during the medication cycle, you begin to feel abnormal, consult an OB/GYN for more pregnancy-friendly drugs.
Precautions to Take While Taking Loperamide
It is important to remember to avoid any risk of danger to you, your partner or your baby, that some precautions are taken before you consume loperamide, also known as Imodium, during pregnancy.
- Never take the pill beyond the prescribed dose.
- Consult your doctor during the course of the medication.
- Do not self-medicate.
- If you feel abnormal during the consumption of the medication, talk to your physician.
- Don’t compensate for the side effects of loperamide with other medicines.
- If doctors prescribe the drug – do not panic; Imodium, during pregnancy, can be prescribed if doctors feel that the problem cannot be cured without the same.
Here are some frequently asked questions about Loperamide
Can Taking Loperamide Cause Birth Defects In Baby?
It’s unsure, there is not enough scientific evidence to argue for or against birth defects in children caused by loperamide. It is commonly assumed that in limited doses and under the care of a doctor, loperamide will not harm your child.
Can Taking Imodium Cause Miscarriage
There is no direct evidence that Imodium or loperamide can cause miscarriage. This could be caused by numerous other entities and considerations. It is best to consult your doctor before beginning the course of any medication and keep them in the loop when you are on the medicine so they can act quickly to possibly avoid the worst-case scenario.
Although there is no direct link between the pill and preterm birth, constipation and fevers are side effects of this drug and are also known causes of premature deliveries. Do not panic, however. If a doctor prescribes this remedy, chances are they have tested it, and you can be assured it won’t be a risk for you or your baby.
Still Birth or Low Birth Weight?
Much like miscarriages, there is no direct evidence linking the weight of the baby or a stillbirth delivery and loperamide. If you fear that the treatment might cause any such harm, it is always best to communicate this to your doctor.
Can Taking Loperamide Cause Learning Or Behavioural Problems In My Child?
No, there is no link between learning or behavioural problems and loperamide, it is commonly assumed that the two are not interlinked (4).
Is There Any Risk To My Baby If The Father Has Taken Imodium?
The research done on this is extremely limited. The results imply that there is little to no risk to your baby if their father has taken Imodium (4).
It is important not to self-medicate. Please talk to your doctor, and if this medication is prescribed, please follow the dosage and consumption instructions provided by the doctor. If you face any side effects of loperamide, contact your primary healthcare physician immediately, and stop the medication till they examine you and provide further medical assistance.
1. Hanauer S: The role of loperamide in gastrointestinal disorders: PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18477966/
2. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division: Imodium Capsules Rx: U.S Food & Drug Administration, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/017694s052lbl.pdf, 2016
3. LOPERAMIDE (Gastro-stop, Imodium, Lopedium, Gastrex, Diareze, Diacare): St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, https://www.svhm.org.au/ArticleDocuments/2305/Loperamide.pdf.aspx?embed=y
4. Loperamide: Medicines in Pregnancy, https://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/Medicine–pregnancy/Loperamide/ July 2022
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