The best over-the-counter medications during pregnancy

Over-the-counter medications aren’t always safe, particularly in pregnancy.

variety of medications on table with woman in bed in background

If you’re considering medications during pregnancy, remember any substance you consume can pass directly to your baby. Know the reasons for taking a medication, its benefits, and possible risks.

You may develop a cold or flu during pregnancy. You might also have a severe headache, pain or other symptoms that require relief with over-the-counter medications.

Over-the-counter refers to medications you can buy at any store without a prescription. They are usually safe and effective without seeking treatment from a health professional. However, some have the potential for harm during pregnancy, and the true risk of others may not be known.

These medications are widely available for purchase. However, you should become familiar with the indications for taking these medications. Check the proper dose in pregnancy, side effects to you and your baby, and possible interaction with prescribed medications.

Make sure your doctor knows about all the medications you take during your pregnancy including any alternative medicines or supplements that might even be considered “natural.” Here is a list of over-the-counter medications that are considered safe in pregnancy:

Prenatal vitamins

The safest over-the-counter medications during pregnancy are prenatal vitamins. They contain iron and folic acid that help prevent anemia and lower the risk of birth defects. They should be taken starting at least six weeks prior to conception. Your doctor will suggest that you continue throughout the pregnancy and until three months after delivery.

Learn more: The ABCs of vitamins in pregnancy


Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
Glytone (benzoyl peroxide)


Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
Claritin or Alavert (Loratadine)
Zyrtec (cetirizine)

Cold and flu

Tylenol Cold and Sinus products


Colace (docusate sodium)
Citrucel or Unifiber (methylcellulose)
Fiberall or FiberCon (calcium polycarbophil)
Metamucil (psyllium)
Milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide)
ClearLax, MiraLax (polyethylene Glycol)
High-fiber diet


Dextromethorphan (cough suppression)
Robitussin Maximum Strength Cough
Benylin Adult
Vicks 44 Cough Relief
Cough drops
Vicks VapoRub
Mucinex (guaifenesin, removes mucus from lungs)


Maalox anti-diarrhea (loperamide)

First-aid treatment

J&J First-Aid Cream

Gas pain and bloating

Maalox Anti-gas
Mylanta Gas


Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, Tums (calcium carbonate)
Maalox or Mylanta Liquid (aluminum hydrozide, simethicone)
Pepcid AC (famotidine)
Zantac (ranitidine)


Anusol-HC (hydrocortisone)
Preparation H (phenylephrine, pramozine, glycerin, petrolatum)
Tucks pads


Unisom SleepTabs (doxylamine succinate)
Tylenol PM (acetaminophen, diphenhydramine)
Benadryl 25-50 mg


Hydrocortisone—Cortaid, Lanacort

Nausea, vomiting, motion sickness

Dramamine (dimenhydrinate)
Ginger root (ginger) 250 mg 4 times a day
Vitamin B6, 50 mg twice a day
Unisom SleepTabs (doxylamine succinate)

Pain relief and fever

Tylenol (acetaminophen), 650-1,000 mg every 4 hours as needed. Do not take more than 4,000 mg in 24 hours


Benadryl cream
Caladryl Clear lotion (pramoxine, zinc acetate)
Calamine lotion (calamine, zinc oxide)
Cortaid 1% (hydrocortisone)
Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment (colloidal oatmeal)

Sinus congestion

Tavist Allergy, 1 tab every 12 hours
Benadryl 25-50 mg every 4-6 hours
Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) 1 tab every 4-6 hours after 12 weeks gestation
Claritin 10 mg daily
Zyrtec 10 mg daily
Clor-Trimetron (chlorpheniramine)

Sore throat

Cepacol Maximum Strength sore throat spray or Sucrets (dyclonine hydrochloride)
Chloraseptic lozenges (benzocaine) or spray (phenol)
Halls or Robitussin lozenges (menthol)
Vicks Lozenges with honey (dextromethorphan hydrobromide)

Vaginal yeast infection

Gynazole-1 (butoconazole)
Gyne-Lotrimin (clotrimazole)
Monistat-7 vaginal cream (miconazole)

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Posted In Health Information, Pregnancy, Women's

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