Medications During Pregnancy


Healthy Women

It is unethical to test prescription or over-the-counter medications on pregnant women. Thus, what we know about their effects on the fetus comes from animal studies, anecdotal evidence and retrospective studies, in which researchers look back at a woman’ s records for any links between medication used during pregnancy and problems in the baby. But given that a significant number of women in their childbearing years take prescription medications, and many more use over-the-counter drugs, it’ s safe to assume they’ re continuing some of that during pregnancy.

To learn if your medication is considered safe, go to You can search on the specific medication and learn where it falls on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’ s scale of safety. For additional information, visit the FDA’ s Medicine and Pregnancy website. But, always talk to your health care professional before taking any medication when you’ re pregnant.

Common medications that are considered safe during pregnancy (but that should be confirmed by your physician) include:

  • Allergies/antihistamines: Cetirizine (Zyrtec, Alleroff); chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton, Efidac, Teldrin); loratadine (Alavert, Claritin, Loradamed, Tavist ND, Triaminic Allerchews); diphenhydramine (Banophen, Benadryl, Diphenhist, Genahist); check with your health care provider before using nasal sprays
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Cold or cough*: Cough drops (Halls), Mucinex (expectorant), Robitussin DM, Romilar, Scot-Tussin DM, Trind DM, Tylenol Cold, Vicks 44 cough relief, Vicks VapoRub, warm salt water gargle, saline nasal drops or spray (some may be restricted during first trimester; check with your health care provider)
  • Constipation: methylcellulose (Citrucel, Unifiber); polycarbophil (Equalactin, Fibercon, Fiber-Lax, FiberNorm, Konsyl-Fiber, Mitrolan); psyllium (Fiberall, Konsyl-D, Metamucil, Modane Bulk, Perdiem); and other stool softeners and laxatives, such as Colace, Dulcolax, Maltsupex, Move It Along, milk of magnesia
  • Diarrhea: Imodium, Kaopectate, Parepectolin (for 24 hours, only after 12 weeks of pregnancy)
  • First aid ointment: Bacitracin, J &J, Neosporin
  • Headache/painkillers: Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Heartburn, gas, bloating: Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta, Riopan, Rolaids, Titralac, Tums
  • Hemorrhoids: Anusol, Preparation H, Tucks, witch hazel pads
  • Nausea and vomiting: Emetrex, Emetrol (if you don’ t have diabetes), seasickness bands, vitamin B6
  • Rashes: Benedryl cream, calamine (Caladryl) lotion or cream, hydrocortisone cream or ointment, oatmeal bath
  • Yeast infection: Monistat or Terazol for yeast infection (do not insert the applicator too far)

*Do not use long-acting, extended use, sustained action or multi-symptom forms of these drugs.

News Flash:

Do not use the following medications if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and talk to your health care provider to make sure all of your prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements are safe to continue taking:

  • Acne drug isotretinoin (Accutane)
  • Psoriasis drugs such as acitretin (Soriatane)
  • Thalidomide (Thalomid)
  • ACE inhibitors used to treat high blood pressure
  • Any cold remedies containing alcohol
  • Decongestants pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine
  • Certain antifungal products

©2017. National Women’ s Health Resource Center, Inc. All rights reserved. All content provided in this guide is for information purposes only. Any information herein relating to specific medical conditions, preventive care and/or healthy lifestyles does not suggest individual diagnosis or treatment and is not a substitute for medical attention.

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