Safe medications during pregnancy

Talk with your doctor before taking any medicine, including herbs and supplements

A doctor smiles while placing her hand on a pregnant patient's belly.

When you’re pregnant, the medications you take can affect your health and the health of your baby. It’s important to be mindful of what you’re taking while you’re growing a baby.

Pregnancy medicine safety tips

Although some medicines are considered safe during pregnancy, the effects of other medications on unborn babies are unknown. Some medicines may cause birth defects, pregnancy loss, prematurity, infant death or developmental disabilities.

Keep these things in mind:

  • Always check with your health care provider about any medications, herbs or supplements you’re using now or considering using. Your provider will tell you if it’s safe to use during pregnancy and provide a safer alternative if necessary.
  • No medication is 100% safe to use during pregnancy. Everyone is different. Certain medications may be fine for someone else to use while pregnant, but you may have a different reaction to them.
  • The over-the-counter medications listed below are generally safe for most people to take during pregnancy.
  • Dosage matters. Find the recommended dosage on the medication’s label or ask your doctor what they recommend. Don’t take more than the recommended dose. While you’re pregnant, it’s a good idea to take the smallest effective dose.
  • Some medications are safe to use temporarily during pregnancy, but long-term use isn’t safe. Review your medications with a doctor to double-check their long-term safety.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any medications you’ve been prescribed.

List of safe medications, herbs and supplements for you and your baby:

Prenatal vitamins

The safest over-the-counter supplements during pregnancy are prenatal vitamins.

These vitamins contain iron and folic acid that help prevent anemia and lower the risk of birth defects. Ideally, you should start taking prenatal vitamins at least six weeks before you become pregnant.

Continue taking these vitamins throughout pregnancy and up to three months after delivery.

Fever, headache, and pain

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Take only if prescribed by your provider

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin)

Colds and cough

  • Cough drops
  • Dextromethorphan (such as Robitussin DM, Robitussin PE, Vicks 44E)
  • Guaifenesin (such as Mucinex)
  • Nasal Spray
  • Vicks VapoRub

Take only after 12 weeks of pregnancy

  • Phenylephrine
  • Pseudoephedrine (such as plain Sudafed)

Sore throat

  • Cepastat or Halls throat lozenges
  • Saltwater gargle

Motion sickness

  • Dimenhydrinate (such as Dramamine)
  • Motion sickness wrist bands (such as Sea-Bands)

Allergies

  • Chlorpheniramine or Loratadine (antihistamines such as Claritin)
  • Diphenhydramine (antihistamines such as Benadryl)
  • Medicine with phenylephrine (such as Tylenol Allergy Multi-Symptom)
  • Nasal spray
  • Tavist Allergy
  • Zyrtec, plain

Nausea

  • Doxylamine (Unisom Sleep tablets)
  • Emetrol
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint oil
  • Vitamin B6

Heartburn, gas, and bloating

  • Antacids (such as Tums or Rolaids)
  • Bismuth subsalicylate (such as Pepto-Bismol)
  • Gaviscon
  • Mylanta
  • Pepcid
  • Prilosec
  • Simethicone (such as Gas-X or Maalox)
  • Tagamet

Constipation

  • High fiber diet (not a medication)
  • Medications to take by mouth:
    • Calcium polycarbohil (such as Fibercon)
    • Citrucel
    • Colace
    • Dialose
    • Dulcolax
    • FiberGard
    • Miralax
  • Treatments to rectum:
    • Anusol HS 1%
    • Cotton balls soaked in Milk of Magnesia
    • Hemorrhoid creams (such as Preparation H)
  • Hemorrhoid suppositories

Diarrhea

  • Bismuth subsalicylate (such as Pepto-Bismol)
  • Kaopectate
  • Loperamide (Imodium)

Yeast or other fungal infections

  • Butenafine (Lotrimin Ultr)
  • Clotrimazole (Cruex)
  • Miconazole (Monistat 3 or 7 or Desenex)
  • Other antifungal products (such as certain kinds of Desenex or Certain)
  • Tolnafate (Absorbine Athlete’s Foot Cream, Absorbine Footcare, Genaspor, Tinactin)
  • Undecylenic acid used on the skin in small amounts (Cruex, Fungi Care, or Tineacide)

Insomnia

  • Diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl, Maximum Strength Unisom Sleep Gels, or Sominex)
  • Doxylamine Succinate (such as Unisom Nighttime Sleep-Aid)

Itching

  • Hydrocortisone cream (Cortaid, Lanacort)

Cuts and scrapes

  • Polysporin ointment (such as Bacitracin or Neosporin)

Natural remedies

If you see “natural” on a product’s label, that doesn’t guarantee it’s safe. Just like any medication, some natural remedies are safe to use during pregnancy and others aren’t.

Natural remedies are less regulated and undergo less testing than medications. This means there’s some uncertainty around the exact ingredients in these products and their safety and effectiveness may not have been studied in pregnant people.

Stay safe by discussing any alternative medicines or treatments with your health care provider before you try them while pregnant.

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Posted In Health Information, Pregnancy, Women's