Considering nutritional supplements

Many women choose to treat common ailments with over-the-counter plant extracts or other natural medications. Some are considered completely safe during pregnancy, but keep in mind that, because they are considered nutritional supplements, these agents are not regulated by the FDA. Despite the fact that many pregnant women use these supplements, very few studies have evaluated their safety or shown that they actually give a benefit during pregnancy. Many of these pills are also unregulated for dose, so one pill may contain twice as much as the next. Some of these supplements are combinations of different herbs or extracts and the interactions are unknown and unstudied. St John's wort, for instance, is an herb commonly used to treat depression, sleep disorders, and viral infections. Not only can this herb interact with other medications, but also, its safety/benefit during pregnancy has not been studied, so use it with caution.

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Some herbal medications should not be used during pregnancy because they can cause uterine contractions or even miscarriage. A short list of agents that are not recommended during pregnancy includes mugwort, blue cohosh, tansy, black cohosh, Scotch broom, goldenseal, juniper berry, pennyroyal oil, rue, mistletoe, and chaste berry.

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