Taking Nifedipine During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?

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Dr. Sanjana Sainani (Obstetrician and Gynaecologist)
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Taking Nifedipine during Pregnancy - Is It Safe?

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Nifedipine is one of the most effective drugs to prevent unwanted early labour. If you are heading towards preterm labour for unexplained reasons, then chances are your doctor will put you on nifedipine. However, before taking this drug, first, you need to understand its use and side effects. It may work like magic for many pregnant women, but the same may not hold true for you. Moreover, it may not be suitable for you subject to its side effects, so make sure you consult with your doctor before taking this medicine.

What Is Nifedipine?

Nifedipine is an anti-contraction medicine. It helps in slowing down the uterine contractions, which in turn delays the preterm labour. It is a calcium channel blocker, which helps in treating medical conditions like high blood pressure and heart diseases.

How Does Nifedipine Work During Pregnancy?

Basically, nifedipine slows down the contractions in the uterus since its a calcium channel blocker, and the uterus requires calcium to contract. Nifedipine obstructs the pathways, preventing calcium from reaching the uterus. So, you must be wondering how it helps in delaying the labour, aren’t you? Nifedipine blocks the calcium and allows the uterus and other soft tissues in one’s body to relax, which in turn delays the labour.

When Is Nifedipine Used During Pregnancy?

Typically, your doctor will put you on nifedipine if you are susceptible to an unexplained preterm labour. The following cases usually lead to the prescription of nifedipine by your doctor:

  • If you are diagnosed with thinning of cervix, and if your cervix dilates to 4 cm way earlier than your due date.
  • A rupture of membranes, even while the mother’s amniotic sac is intact.
  • Unexpected labour, despite the fact that the foetus is not in distress and still has time until the due date.
  • When other uterus contraction preventing medicines such as terbutaline (Beta- Sympathetic medicine) proves to be ineffective.
  • If the intake of other drugs has been ceased considering the unwanted side effects.
  • If there is a need to delay the labour for 24 to 48 hours to treat other underlying conditions such as corticosteroid treatment (this is done to treat the lungs of the foetus).

Side Effects of Nifedipine During Pregnancy

Although nifedipine works wonders for most women by delaying the preterm labour, it has a few side effects like many other medicines. Usually, it is believed to inflict no damage or side effects on the mother or her child, with the exception of serious medical cases. Following are some of the common side effects of taking nifedipine during pregnancy:

  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Red skin rashes
  • Diarrhoea
  • Hot or warm flashes
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feeling faint

Tips for Pregnant Women

It is always recommended to avoid any sort of unnecessary medication, especially if it is something that is not prescribed by your doctor. Following are some tips for you to have a better understanding:

  • It is highly unlikely for your doctor to prescribe this medicine unless you experience a sudden case of preterm labour. Moreover, in any other situation, this medicine will not be used at any point during your pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy is a delicate phase. Ensure that you follow the advice of your doctor, and are taking your medications on time.
  • Nifedipine and other such medicines are prescribed only in extreme cases.
  • If there is a possibility of using nifedipine during preterm labour, then it’s always better to discuss it in detail with your gynaecologist to rule out any odds.
  • Pregnancy requires the utmost level of care to ensure the safety of mother and child. If you are expected to have a preterm labour for reasons other than medical, then it becomes even more crucial for you to pay attention to your health and well-being.
  • To analyse your condition carefully, your doctor also requires your correct medical history. So, always be honest when communicating your medical history to your doctor.

When to Call a Doctor

During pregnancy, you will experience a multitude of changes in your body. However, understanding those changes and their timings is also crucial to rule out any odd event. Usually, a normal pregnancy lasts for about 40 weeks. However, if one’s labour starts during the 37th week or before that, then it may prove harmful to both the mother and child. Hence, it is advisable to seek medical attention as early as possible. Following are some symptoms indicating that you need to visit a doctor at the earliest:

  1. Frequent contractions
  2. Lower abdominal pressure
  3. Vaginal spotting or bleeding
  4. Pelvic pressure
  5. Vaginal discharge
  6. Diarrhoea
  7. Water breaking

Consult with your doctor right away if you experience any of the given symptoms or other issues. It’s always better to address a problem at its earlier stage to ensure the safety and well-being of the mother and her child. It is also recommended that you consult with your doctor before taking any medication, especially if it’s a drug like nifedipine, which is used only in case of an emergency.

Also Read: Reasons To Call Your Doctor In Pregnancy

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