What nonprescription sleep medicine can I take while pregnant?
Heather Free, PharmD
Pharmacologist, WebMD Medical Expert
American Pharmacists Association
Diphenhydramine is a commonly used OTC product. It is an antihistamine medication with one side effect profile of drowsiness. It is found as the active ingredient by itself or in combination products with pain relief medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
If you are pregnant and have trouble sleeping, first consult your ob-gyn before taking any medications. Diphenhydramine has a pregnancy risk category B, which means studies have not been able to prove an increased risk of fetal abnormalities.
If you were to select an OTC product for aid with sleep, stay away from the combination products that contain pain aids, specifically ibuprofen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medications.
More importantly, continue to keep your health care professionals in the loop about your OTC selections. While OTC medications are easily available for self-treatment, it doesn't always mean it is safe and effective for your individual purpose. Read the bottles carefully and ask questions with your pharmacist.