Questions in a pregnancy health history
Is she taking any medicines now?
It is best for a woman to avoid modern medicines and plant
medicines during pregnancy. There are many medicines that
can harm the baby inside the womb.
If a woman needs to take a medicine, see the green
medicine pages at the end of this book to find out whether
that medicine is listed as safe in pregnancy. If the medicine is
not listed, get medical advice.
Supplements and tonics
Some modern and plant medicines that are not dangerous are called supplements
or tonics. Prenatal vitamins and iron pills are healthy and safe supplements. They
help the body get the vitamins and minerals it needs.
Some plants are not used to heal sickness, but to make the
body stronger. These herbs have vitamins and minerals that help
the baby grow. They are safe and helpful
in pregnancy. Some of these tonic plants
are nettles, alfalfa, and red raspberry leaf.
These plants have different names around
the world, so ask someone experienced
Stinging nettles (Urtica
calcium, vitamin K,
folic acid, and other
with plant medicines before giving any
tonic herbs to pregnant women.
But cover your hands
when you pick them
or you will be stung!
Has any medicine ever given her problems?
If the woman has ever had a health problem after taking
a medicine, like a rash, swelling, or difficulty breathing,
do not give her that medicine. Those problems are signs
of allergy. If a woman takes a medicine that she is allergic to,
she might become very sick or even die. An allergic reaction
can happen at any time during the rest of her life.
Write down the name of the medicine so you can both remember it. Explain to
the woman that she must never use the medicine again, and that she should always
tell her doctors or health workers what happened when she used the medicine.
Note: Some kinds of medicines come in “families.” They are very
similar to each other. For example, penicillin and ampicillin are in the
same family. This is why their names are similar. If a woman is allergic
to one member of a family of medicines, she is probably allergic to the
other members of that family. See page 471 to learn more.
Medicines that are not in the same family as the one she is allergic to
are as safe for her as for anyone else.
A Book for Midwives (2010)