What Medications Are Safe To Take During Pregnancy?

Some medications are safe to take during pregnancy, while many others are not. Some are even more dangerous for a baby in the first three months. Before taking any medicine, you should speak with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you and your baby.

Prescription medications

Ideally, you should speak with your doctor if you are thinking about getting pregnant and are on any prescription medications. Some medications may need to be stopped, while a simple switch of some medications is all that is needed to keep you and your baby healthy.

If you don’t get a chance to speak beforehand, you should talk to the doctor about the medications you are currently taking when you first know that you are pregnant. They will be able to tell you if the medicine is no longer safe and try to provide an alternative.

In some situations, the risk of stopping a medication could be worse for both you and your baby. For example, urinary tract infections are dangerous during pregnancy if left untreated. They can cause you to get a kidney infection, which in turn could result in early labor, severe illness for the mother, and low birth weight.

Important tip: Remember to tell any healthcare provider you see that you are pregnant.

Over-the-counter medications

Prescription medications aren’t the only ones you will need to know about. The over-the-counter medications you are accustomed to taking for headaches, allergies, and other issues can also be dangerous, although many are considered safe. Here is a quick list of medicines that are generally considered to be safe for your baby, although you should talk to your doctor about them.

  • Tylenol or acetaminophen (Do not take anything with Ibuprofen)
  • Antacids (Zantac®, Pepcid AC®, etc…)
  • Guaifenesin (Robitussin)
  • Cough drops
  • Vicks VapoRub®
  • Benadryl tablets
  • Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra
  • Laxatives (non-stimulants such as Colace, Milk of Magnesia, and Senna are okay. Avoid Ex-lax.)

GERD, Acid Reflux, Heartburn medications

Heartburn and acid reflux are common during pregnancy and can be uncomfortable. The condition is caused when the hormones produced during pregnancy cause muscles in the esophagus to relax. This can allow the fluids in the stomach to travel upwards, especially after a large meal or when you lay down.

Another reason you may have heartburn or acid reflux during pregnancy is that your baby is pushing on your stomach. This happens during the second and third trimesters.

GERD is a condition that comes with other issues, like trouble sleeping, difficulty swallowing, and constant heartburn. Speak with your doctor to ensure you do not have GERD and about the possible treatments that are safe for both you and your baby.

  • Eating small, bland meals and sitting upright for at least 30 minutes after eating can help with these symptoms.
  • Avoiding certain foods known to trigger heartburn can also be beneficial. It’s advisable to limit your intake of spicy foods, citrus fruits, chocolate, and caffeinated or carbonated drinks.
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothing can also help, as tight clothes can put additional pressure on your stomach and worsen heartburn.
  • Try to avoid eating less than 2-3 hours before bedtime to give your body ample time to digest food before you lie down.
  • Regular exercise can also aid digestion and reduce the likelihood of suffering from heartburn. Always remember to consult your physician before starting any new exercise regimen during pregnancy.

Medications that are safe for GERD, acid reflux, and heartburn:

  • Gaviscon® (Occasionally)
  • Pepcid AC®
  • Maalox®
  • Mylanta®
  • Titralac®, Tums®
  • Zantac®
  • Prilosec OTC

Medicines for the common cold

The common cold is not fun at ANY time, but especially during pregnancy when you may already be uncomfortable. Most colds are viral and do not require antibiotics. In many cases, rest and fluids are the best course of action.

Before we discuss any medicines, it can be helpful to consider other methods of treating the symptoms. For example, cough drops and Vicks VapoRub®, while technically medicinal, can help you deal with things without taking harsher medicines like Robitussin. Also consider the following, to help with symptoms:

  • Chicken soup
  • A hot shower
  • A vaporizer
  • Saline nasal washes
  • Rest and relaxation
  • Saltwater rinse/gargle

With precautions, you can take some cold medicines safely. Just remember to look for those with the fewest ingredients, avoid anything with Ibuprofen or aspirin, and never use herbal medications without consulting with your doctor.

  • Cold medications that are usually safe to take
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) – do not take for more than 1 week
  • Zinc lozenges
  • Chloraseptic spray
  • Robitussin
  • NyQuil or DayQuil

Nausea medications

For many women, nausea is just part of pregnancy. It is caused by the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone and is most common during early pregnancy, within the first thirteen weeks. For women who do not have severe morning sickness, nausea and vomiting should dissipate after that time.

There are many natural and easy remedies for nausea, including changing your diet and lifestyle, avoiding stuffy rooms, and munching on ginger candies or peppermints. If these and other remedies do not help, or if you experience severe nausea for longer than thirteen weeks, it’s time to talk to your doctor.

  • Safe medications for nausea
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • A combination of Vitamin B6 and Unisom
  • Phenergan
  • Zofran
  • Metoclopromide

Insomnia medicines

Many different sleep disorders can affect women during pregnancy, but insomnia is one of the most common. The first step for treating this condition is to make lifestyle changes.

Melatonin is a common OTC drug that many think is safe during pregnancy but is actually, not. Many insomnia medications have not yet been approved for use during pregnancy, so trying other things first is important.

Before taking any medications for sleep disorders, prescription or not, you must speak with your doctor. This is because the risks to your baby are higher with these medications than with others. Unisom SleepGels® and Benadryl are the only two medications that are likely safe, but each situation is different.

Pregnancy care at Women’s Healthcare Associates

Whether you are pregnant for the first time or already know what to expect when expecting, the team at WHA is here to help! We are there for you through every step of your Pregnancy. Give us a call at (806) 355-6330 to schedule an appointment and learn more about our Services.

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