Morning after pill: Will this harm your baby-to-be?

I just took a home pregnancy test and found out that I am pregnant. This was a surprise because it happened despite taking the morning-after pill. Will this harm my baby-to-be?


The morning after pill prevents implantation of a pregnancy by messing up the lining of the uterus to keep the egg from finding a good place to grow. While it is fairly effective, it does have a small failure rate (as you know). The actual failure rate is hard to know for sure. About 8 women out of 100 would get pregnant in any one month, if they were having sex around ovulation. The morning after pills seem to reduce that chance to about 1 to 2 out of 100.

The good news is there is no effect (that we know of) on your baby from the medication. The likelihood of an effect on a pregnancy is very small (almost nonexistent) if the exposure is in the first two weeks of pregnancy because of the "toti-potential" ability of the cells. In other words, each cell has the capability of becoming a whole baby. After two weeks, the cells start to differentiate (become certain types of cells). So if you damage or kill some cells in the first two weeks of pregnancy, the other cells fill in for the damaged ones. If you do that after the first two weeks, then they can't fill in and parts of the baby may not develop correctly. If those are critical parts, the baby will not survive (you would miscarry), but if they are not critical, the baby can survive and will be born with defects of one sort or another.

Since these meds are taken close to conception, they are unlikely to have any effect on the baby and the limited studies that have been done so far seem to bear that out.

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