According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of American women take some medication during pregnancy.3 It’s best to seek advice about safe medications during pregnancy from your Obstetrician and Gynecologist. Common over-the-counter medications can be harmful, putting you and your fetus at risk of premature birth, developmental delays, birth defects, and even fetal death.3,5,11
While you may not want to call the doctor if you have aches and pains during pregnancy, a recent study concluded that YouTube videos do not provide enough information about medications to keep you and your baby safe. .7 If you conduct research online, only use reliable, evidence-based sources as following the wrong advice can have serious consequences. Finding trustworthy, scientific information is essential to providing you with the information and resources to enjoy a happy, healthy pregnancy. We’ve done the research for you and are sharing what we found.
Aches and pains are not unusual during pregnancy.1,5,8 Your body is taking on the enormous task of growing into a tiny human, but your growing bump can put extra pressure on your back, legs, joints, and vaginal area. Headaches are common and you may wonder which medications are safe to take during pregnancy.20
The term “pain reliever” is a broad concept and can be further subdivided into acetaminophen-based products, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, and opioids. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, aspirin and Excedrin are not recommended during pregnancy unless specifically prescribed by your doctor.2,5,14,15 Some studies have linked NSAID use in early pregnancy to miscarriage, while in later stages of pregnancy it can affect the baby’s heart and kidneys.2,5,21
Opioids are prescription drugs. If you were prescribed opioids before you became pregnant, seek medical advice as soon as you know you are pregnant. Babies exposed to opioids in utero may be addicted at birth, and these drugs increase the risk of serious complications such as placental abruption.14
Can you take Tylenol while pregnant?
Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, is the most frequently used pain reliever during pregnancy. It has a long history and is considered a safe drug for pregnant women.22 However, the recommendation is to use it sparingly and as directed. Recently, several parents filed lawsuits claiming that Tylenol use during pregnancy contributed to their children developing ADHD or autism.12,15,17
During pregnancy, women cannot avoid allergic diseases such as hay fever. Women with a history of allergies before pregnancy are more likely to experience symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. However, others will experience allergies for the first time during pregnancy.9,13
Your provider will consider the overall benefits and risks of any medication when deciding which medications you can take while you are pregnant. Try avoiding allergens and limit your exposure to allergens. Your doctor may also recommend non-medication management, such as rinsing your nose with a neti pot or saline nasal spray.
Can you take Benadryl while pregnant?
Benadryl has been used for a long time and is generally considered safe during pregnancy when recommended by a doctor.9,13,17
Allergy medications that are safe during pregnancy when under a doctor’s care may include:
- Claritin (loratadine)
- Zyrtec (cetirizine)
- Chlor-Trimeton (chlorpheniramine)9,13
Nasal sprays have many different medicinal ingredients and your doctor may advise you to limit exposure, mainly if the nasal spray contains a decongestant. Pregnant women should avoid taking any oral allergy medications that contain decongestants.9,13 Always check with your OBGYN before starting any allergy medication.
Pregnancy can affect your immune system, and many women get a cough or cold at least once during their pregnancy. However, many usually safe over-the-counter medications can pose risks during pregnancy.3,5,11
Acetaminophen is generally considered safe if you have a cold or fever.15 However, you should always consult your obstetrician and gynecologist because symptoms such as headaches may be related to other complications such as high blood pressure.16
Can you take Robitussin during pregnancy?
There are several Robitussin products on the market. Robitussin DM cough syrup contains two ingredients that are considered relatively safe for pregnant women when used for short periods of time and taken as directed. Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant and guaifenesin, an expectorant, thins mucus. However, some information indicates that guaifenesin may not be safe during the first trimester.
Always consult your doctor before starting medication.6.17
Cold medications that are safe for pregnant women often include:
- Over-the-counter cough medicines contain dextromethorphan, such as Delsym and Robitussin DM
- Non-alcoholic throat lozenges (cough drops) like Ricola17
Avoid using cough medicine that contains alcohol and ibuprofen during pregnancy.2.13
Before pregnancy, you may have never thought about using a decongestant when faced with an uncomfortable, annoying stuffy nose. Decongestants are commonly used for symptoms of the common cold, flu, allergies, and sinusitis.
Decongestants are problematic during pregnancy and have been linked to birth defects, especially in the first trimester. If you have a stuffy nose, using nasal irrigation techniques such as a neti pot or adding humidity to the air may help ease symptoms.10,13
Can you take Mucinex during pregnancy?
According to a drug fact sheet published by MotherToBaby, the leading authority on evidence-based information on substance exposure during pregnancy, the active ingredient in Mucinex, guaifenesin, has a low likelihood of causing birth defects. It is not known whether Mucinex increases the risk of miscarriage. Guaifenesin is an expectorant and is also found in Robitussin DM.
Consult your obstetrician-gynecologist or midwife before taking Mucinex.6
Pseudoephedrine is the active ingredient in Sudafed and some other decongestants. According to the website MotherToBaby, some small studies show a correlation between this drug and birth defects.ten
Consult your doctor about the risks versus benefits. Some medications may be safe at different times during pregnancy. Medications that are safe during pregnancy to treat nasal congestion include:
Antacids and digestive relievers
Heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux are common during pregnancy, especially as the baby grows and puts pressure on your stomach. Treating heartburn follows a similar risk and benefit approach. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and how they affect your quality of life, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to avoid taking unnecessary medications. Reducing caffeine intake, limiting spicy foods, eating small meals instead of large ones, and avoiding lying flat after eating may be enough to improve heartburn symptoms without medication.17,18
However, if you need to take medication, TUMS (calcium carbonate) is generally considered safe during pregnancy. Other antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta and Rolaids may be safe but have additives such as aluminum and sodium bicarbonate. Aluminum is not good for your baby, and sodium can also increase water retention, leading to swelling.17,18
Can you use Pepto during pregnancy?
Pepto-Bismol, the pink drink everyone knows is used to treat stomach cramps, diarrhea, indigestion and nausea, is not a safe drug for pregnant women. The active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol, bismuth subsalicylate, is closely related to aspirin and may cause irregular bleeding.19
Talk to your healthcare provider if you struggle with stomach problems such as indigestion, nausea, or constipation during pregnancy.
Prescription medications during pregnancy: Talk to your doctor
Many women have pre-pregnancy health conditions that require ongoing treatment and management. Conditions such as seizures, mental health conditions, heart disease or diabetes are some of these. Finding an accurate list of medications you can take during pregnancy is challenging, especially when balancing chronic illnesses with pregnancy.4
If you are taking prescription medication, tell your OBGYN as soon as you think you may be pregnant. If you plan to become pregnant, talk to your OBGYN about ways to limit any potential risks of drug exposure.4
Always read medication labels and use as directed. Throughout your pregnancy, ask questions, research trusted, reliable websites, and consult closely with your obstetrician-gynecologist to ensure you manage any health concerns. stay healthy in the best and safest way possible with pregnancy-safe medications.
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