Medicine
Fact Checked

Is It Safe to Take Nitrofurantoin in Pregnancy?

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning

The safety of taking nitrofurantoin in pregnancy generally depends upon the stage of gestation. Historically, there has not been evidence indicating that the drug will harm the fetus during most phases of pregnancy. It is believed by many medical professionals to be risky to take the drug in the last month of pregnancy, however. Studies have continued to be conducted to find conclusive evidence about the safety of nitrofurantoin in pregnancy. Women who become pregnant while taking the drug are typically advised to consult with a healthcare professional promptly.

Women might take nitrofurantoin in pregnancy to treat urinary tract infections. Many doctors will suggest ceasing use of the drug by about 38-42 weeks into the pregnancy, which is approximately when the baby is at full term. It also should not be taken if the woman is going into labor.

Women might take nitrofurantoin in pregnancy to treat urinary tract infections.
Women might take nitrofurantoin in pregnancy to treat urinary tract infections.

The safety of taking nitrofurantoin in pregnancy has not been clear, so doctors often prescribe the drug with caution. There usually must be a demonstrated need for the drug. Some women might be at too high of a risk for taking the drug. For this reason, it is important for a woman to disclose her full medical history to the prescribing doctor before taking the drug. Some doctors will want to observe the patient and fetus more closely while the drug is being administered.

Doctors prescribe nitrofurantoin to pregnant women only when necessary, because its safety has not been proven.
Doctors prescribe nitrofurantoin to pregnant women only when necessary, because its safety has not been proven.

This drug is excreted into breast milk, so new mothers typically are advised not to take nitrofurantoin if they are nursing. When the child is at least 1 month old, it might be safe for the mother to resume taking the drug and keep breastfeeding. A doctor should be consulted about whether the risk to the child has subsided by this time.

Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic medication that comes in liquid and capsule forms. It typically is prescribed to be taken several times a day. The drug usually is prescribed to treat urinary tract infections.

Patients have reported chest pain, tiredness, and muscle weakness as side effects of nitrofurantoin.
Patients have reported chest pain, tiredness, and muscle weakness as side effects of nitrofurantoin.

Patients who have previous conditions such as lung or kidney disease, nerve damage or anemia might need adjusted dosage or extra observation while taking nitrofurantoin. Some of the most common side effects include low appetite, nausea and vomiting. There also have been reports of patients having dark, discolored urine. These side effects usually are not serious and need to be discussed with a doctor only if they worsen or do not go away.

Side effects of nitrofurantoin may include swollen lips.
Side effects of nitrofurantoin may include swollen lips.

There also are several serious potential side effects of taking nitrofurantoin, include fever, chills and breathing problems. Patients also have reported chest pain, uncharacteristic tiredness or weakness of the muscles and a swollen tongue or lips. These symptoms should receive immediate medical attention.

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Discussion Comments

ZipLine

@fify-- I also took nitrofurantoin when I was pregnant and everything was fine. I think it's only dangerous when it's close to labor. And the dose and the treatment time is important too.

donasmrs

@fify-- I used nitrofurantoin during my pregnancy without any negative side effects but I understand your worries. Please see your doctor right away and ask him or her if there is an alternative antibiotic. There are several different types of antibiotics that are safe to use during pregnancy. Of course, they are effective against different types of bacteria. But I'm assuming that there must be at least one other safe alternative to nitrofurantoin for urinary tract infections.

Just don't waste time because a UTI can be very dangerous for the fetus if it spreads. This is why pregnant women are given antibiotics, because the risks from the UTI is greater than the risks from the antibiotics.

fify

My doctor prescribed me this medication for a urinary tract infection and I'm twenty weeks pregnant. I haven't started taking it yet and after reading some of the information about it online, I don't think I will.

I saw about five people comment on a health site that they had a miscarriage soon after starting this medication. I don't know if those were all coincidences, but I don't want to take the risk.

Is there another antibiotic I can take that's safer?

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    • Women might take nitrofurantoin in pregnancy to treat urinary tract infections.
      By: Valua Vitaly
      Women might take nitrofurantoin in pregnancy to treat urinary tract infections.
    • Doctors prescribe nitrofurantoin to pregnant women only when necessary, because its safety has not been proven.
      By: emiliau
      Doctors prescribe nitrofurantoin to pregnant women only when necessary, because its safety has not been proven.
    • Patients have reported chest pain, tiredness, and muscle weakness as side effects of nitrofurantoin.
      By: Stasique
      Patients have reported chest pain, tiredness, and muscle weakness as side effects of nitrofurantoin.
    • Side effects of nitrofurantoin may include swollen lips.
      By: phasinphoto
      Side effects of nitrofurantoin may include swollen lips.
    • Side effects of nitrofurantoin may include fatigue.
      By: Igor Mojzes
      Side effects of nitrofurantoin may include fatigue.
    • New mothers should not take nitrofurantoin if they're nursing.
      By: Dmitriy Melnikov
      New mothers should not take nitrofurantoin if they're nursing.
    • Pregnant women should consult with a doctor before taking nitrofurantoin.
      By: asierromero
      Pregnant women should consult with a doctor before taking nitrofurantoin.