While some medications are considered safe to take during pregnancy, the effects of other medications on your unborn baby are unknown. Therefore, it is very important to pay special attention to medications you take while you are pregnant, especially during the first trimester, a crucial time of development for your baby.
If you were taking prescription medications before you became pregnant, please ask your health care provider about the safety of continuing these medications as soon as you find out that you are pregnant. Your health care provider will weigh the benefit to you and the risk to your baby when making his or her recommendation about a particular medication. With some medications, the risk of not taking them may be more serious than the potential risk associated with taking them.
If you are prescribed any new medication, please inform your health care provider that you are pregnant. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of the newly prescribed medication with your health care provider before taking the medication.
Which Pregnancy Drugs Are Safe?
Prenatal vitamins, now available without a prescription, are safe to take during pregnancy. Ask your health care provider about the safety of taking other vitamins, herbal remedies and supplements during pregnancy. Most herbal preparations and supplements have not been proven to be safe during pregnancy. Generally, you should not take any over-the-counter medication unless it is necessary.
The following medications and home remedies have no known harmful effects during pregnancy when taken according to the package directions. If you want to know about the safety of any other medications not listed here, please contact your health care provider.
|Condition||Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy*|
|Cold and Flu||Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Tylenol Cold
Warm salt/water gargle
Saline nasal drops or spray
Sudafed, Actifed, Dristan, Neosynephrine*
Robitussin DM, Trind-DM, Vicks Cough Syrup, Romilar, Halls*
*Do not take “SA” (sustained action) forms of these drugs or the “Multi-Symptom” forms of these drugs.
Milk of Magnesia
|Diarrhea||For 24 hours, only after 12 weeks of pregnancy:
|First Aid Ointment||J & J
|Nausea andVomiting||Vitamin B6 100 mg tablet
Emetrol (if not diabetic)
|Rashes||Hydrocortisone cream or ointment
Caladryl lotion or cream
Oatmeal bath (Aveeno)
|Yeast Infection||Monistat or Terazol
Do not insert applicator too far
|*Please Note: No drug can be considered 100% safe to use during pregnancy.|
Are Alternative Pregnancy Medicine Therapies Safe?
Many pregnant women believe “natural” products can be safely used to relieve nausea, backache, and other annoying symptoms of pregnancy, but many of these so-called natural products have not been tested for their safety and effectiveness in non-pregnant women, much less in pregnant women. Therefore, it is very important to check with your health care provider before taking any alternative therapies. He or she will not recommend a product or therapy until it is shown to be safe and effective.
Safe Alternative Pregnancy Medicine Therapies
There are some alternative therapies that have been shown to be safe and effective for pregnant women to take to relieve some of the uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy.
- Nausea in early pregnancy: acupuncture, acupressure, ginger root (250 mg capsules 4 times a day), and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, 25 mg two or three times a day) work well.
- Backache: chiropractic manipulation holds the best track record.
- Turning a breech baby: exercise, hypnosis, and traditional Chinese treatment (burning incense-like substance on the fifth toe) have proven beneficial.
- Pain relief in labor: epidurals are most effective, but injections of sterile water near a woman’s tailbone works surprisingly well, as do immersion in a warm bath, and a high tech nerve stimulator called TENS unit. Relaxation techniques, patterned breathing, emotional support, and self-hypnosis are already widely used alternative therapies in labor.
Alternative Pregnancy Medicine Therapies to Avoid
The following substances have the potential to harm a developing baby when used in a concentrated formulation (not as a spice in cooking). Some are thought to cause birth defects, and encourage early labor.
- Avoid these oral supplements: Arbor vitae, Beth root, Black cohosh, Blue cohosh, Cascara, Chaste tree berry, Chinese angelica (Dong Quai), Cinchona, Cotton root bark, Feverfew, Ginseng, Golden seal, Juniper, Kava kava, Licorice, Meadow saffron, Pennyroyal, Poke root, Rue, Sage, St. John’s wort, Senna, Tansy, White peony, Wormwood, Yarrow, Yellow dock, vitamin A (large doses can cause birth defects).
- Avoid these aromatherapy essential oils: calamus, mugwort, pennyroyal, sage, wintergreen, basil, hyssop, myrrh, marjoram, and thyme.
If you have any doubt regarding the safety of a medication, both traditional and alternative, contact your health care provider before taking the therapy.