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Taking Medications During Pregnancy

Updated on May 13, 2009

Pregnancy can be an exciting and even nerve racking time. Mothers often ask themselves and others what is good and what isn't while they are pregnant. Medications are one area of concern. There are a lot of different opinions out there and knowing what is safe and what isn't is sometimes hard to do.

Check With Your Doctor

The best thing to do is to talk to your doctor about what is safe and what isn't. You should avoid vitamins that aren't prenatal ones, herbal remedies, and any supplements. If you are interested in taking any of these that you were on before you were pregnant it is a good idea to take the bottle with you and discuss it with your doctor. Many of these can cause issues in your pregnancy and with your baby. It is also a good idea to talk to him or her about tea and herbal tea consumption.

It is also important for you to let your doctor know any medications that you are taking. In the day of specialties, your family or regular doctor is probably not the one that is taking care of you during your pregnancy. Because of this it is important for you to ask the doctors if the prescription drugs that you are taking are safe for your baby. This should be done as soon as you find out you are pregnant. If you are trying to get pregnant then it is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about your medications before you actually get pregnant.

There are a few medications considered "safe" during pregnancy. These are available over the counter and can be used in moderation. It is important that you follow any limits that are set and it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor about them anyway.

1st Trimester

The first trimester is often the most important for what medications are safe and what ones aren't. This is because your baby's organs are developing during this time. This is your baby's most vulnerable stage. During this time medications are more likely to have a negative effect on your baby. Some doctors recommend limiting the number of medications during this time a lot. It is a good idea to suffer through your ailments with the least amount of medication as possible.

Over the Counter Medications

The following list is a list of medications generally considered safe during pregnancy. Most should still be avoided during the first trimester and you should always try the simplest solution first. Make sure you don't overdose and aim for less then the recommended dosage if at all possible.

  • Allergies- It is considered safe to take Benadryl for allergies. It is best if this starts after the first trimester.
  • Cold and Flu- Warm salt water gargle is the safest and can be taken at any time. Vicks VapoRub can be used any time, but you should follow the directions and don't overdose. Tylenol (acetaminophen) is considered safe, but you should get regular strength and not consume more then 2000 mg in 24 hours. Cough drops are also considered safe any time. The following can be taken, but with higher risk. It is a good idea to take only after the first trimester, should not take sustained action forms or multi-symptom forms of these drugs. They include Tylenol Cold, Sudafed, Actifed, Dristan, Neosynephrine, Robitussin DM, Trind-DM, Vicks Cough Syrup, Romilar, or Halls.
  • Constipation- These are generally considered safe throughout the pregnancy: Metamucil, Citrucil, Fiberall, Fibercon, Colace, Milk of Magnesia, and Senekot.
  • Diarrhea- There is nothing recommended for the first trimester. After that the following are considered safe: Kaopectate, Immodium, and Parepectolin.
  • Headache and other pain- The only pain reliever safe for pregnancy is acetaminophen most recognized under the brand name Tylonel.
  • Heartburn- Tums (or other calcium based heartburn relievers) are often the most doctor recommended heartburn aids. However, the following are considered safe: Maalox, Mylanta, Riopan, Titralac, and Gaviscon.
  • Hemorrhoids- Safe any time during pregnancy you can feel confident using: Preparation H, Anusol, Tucks, and Witch Hazel.
  • Nausea and Vomiting- Sea Bands (bands that go around the wrist to put pressure on the pressure point on the underside) are the safest way to try to get rid of nausea and vomiting. Vitamin B6 can be taken in the 100 mg tablet. Others that may be safe are Emetrol (as long as you aren't diabetic) and Emetrex.
  • Rashes- Considered safe at all times of pregnancy are Hydrocortisone cream or ointment, Caladryl lotion or cream, Benadryl Cream, and Oatmeal Bath.
  • Yeast Infection- Most doctors suggest that you talk with them if you think you have a yeast infection. This is because it could be a bacterial infection and there is a possibility that both could lead to premature labor. However, Monistat and Terazol are safe during pregnancy. You need to be careful to insert the applicator a short distance.

 It is still best that you try to avoid medications, take the least amount effective (try one at a time rather then two), and pick the simplest version first (sea bands over an oral choice for nausea or salt water gargles, Vicks VapoRub, and Tylenol over a cold medication). If you have questions or concerns, talk with your doctor right away! He or she will be able to assist you better then a list that is "generally" considered "safe".

Vitamins, Herbs, and Supplements

I mentioned this a little in the above paragraphs, but it is so important that here are more details.

Vitamins- Pre-natal vitamins are considered safe. You should take them as recommended on the label. Other vitamins can cause an overdose and other issues. If you wish to take another vitamin for any reason, talk to your doctor first to make sure it is safe.

Herbs and Herbal Remedies- Many people have turned to herbs, herbal supplements, and herbal remedies for better health and wholeness. This is just fine, however most of these aren't tested or studied, especially for use by pregnant and or breastfeeding women. Therefore it is important to talk to your doctor to find out what is safe and what isn't. Some herbs, herbal supplements, and remedies can cause fetal development issues, problems with the uterus, and even premature labor. Always check first.

There are three that are generally considered safe and often recommended during pregnancy. They include Red Raspberry Leaf tea which is often consumed in the form of tea during the second and third trimesters for many benefits that it has on the uterus and preparing the body for labor. Others are peppermint leaf and ginger root, both of which can help with nausea.

A Note About Teas- There is some question as to what teas are safe during pregnancy and what ones are not. It is a good idea to avoid green tea (some evidence shows it robs the body of folic acid which is really important for fetal development especially in the first trimester) and herbal teas until you have talked to your doctor.

Supplements- In addition to vitamins and herbs many of us have turned to supplements for a healthier us. This is fine, but it isn't really known if most of these are safe during pregnancy. It is best to talk to your doctor before continuing on with any supplements that you take.

Often times it is hard to know where to turn when it comes for medications while pregnant. However, this is an important issue! You should:

  • Check with your doctor about prescription medications you are taking.
  • Take medications with care and in the smallest amounts possible.
  • Take a pre-natal vitamin, but skip other vitamins, herbs, and supplements till you talk to your doctor.
  • Skip teas until you can talk to your doctor about their safety.

While the information provided here is meant to provide some help, it isn't provided by a doctor. Remember that no medication is considered 100% safe during pregnancy. There is always some risk with taking medications and this should always be kept in mind. Your comfort is important, but be careful with what you take during this time. It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor (I can't stress that enough).


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  • aidenofthetower profile image

    aidenofthetower 7 years ago

    Anom...while coffee doesn't really fall in with this article I decided that I would answer this anyway.

    -There are a lot of people who believe that drinking coffee and other products with caffeine is bad for you while you are pregnant.

    -There are studies that show this is true, HOWEVER (and I can't really stress that word enough while typing online) these studies are based on large amounts of coffee. Having read a few of them one was based on five cups of coffee and another eight cups of coffee. These large amounts of coffee were consumed every day and the results recorded. Nothing was proven, but it was decided that they suggested that there may be negative effects from caffeine consumption.

    -Other studies have shown that there are no side effects from moderate consumption of caffeine.

    It should be noted that some women have a heightened issue with caffeine when they are pregnant. I had never had a problem with caffeine side effects. I even worked at Starbucks at one point and there were days when I consumed lots of coffee over the years with no jitters, problems sleeping, or such. I didn't drink a lot of caffeine with my first pregnancy, but never had a problem when I did have a cup of coffee or a soda. My second pregnancy a few sips of anything with caffeine and I would feel all jittery and wound up.

    If you experience these sorts of feelings or other problems (stomach issues are also common among pregnant women) then it is definitely better to let the caffeine go.

    Other than that, a moderate amount of caffeine or the occasional cup of coffee shouldn't be a problem.

  • profile image

    anom 7 years ago

    It is being found by a study that pregnant women shouldn’t take cup of coffee in the it right? i studied it in this blog