Pregnancy and Medicine

Although some medications are considered safe to take during pregnancy, the effects of other medications on your unborn baby are unknown. According to the CDC, about two-thirds of women in the U.S. take one or more prescription medications during pregnancy. Yet most medications have not been adequately studied for their safety during pregnancy. One report notes that more that 90% of the medications approved by the FDA from 1980 to 2000 had insufficient data to determine safety in pregnancy. Therefore, it is very important to pay special attention to medications you take while you are pregnant, especially during the first trimester, which is a crucial time of development for your baby.

An estimated 50% of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned. Therefore, all women of childbearing age should discuss the risks of any medications you take with your doctor, including over-the-counter medications.

If you were taking prescription medications before you became pregnant, be sure to ask your doctor about the safety of continuing these medications as soon as you find out that you are pregnant. Your doctor will weigh the benefit to you and the risk to your baby when making his or her recommendations. With some medications, the risk of not taking them may be more serious than the risk associated with taking them.

If you are prescribed any new medication, please inform your doctor that you are pregnant. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of the newly prescribed medication with your doctor before taking the medication.

Which Pregnancy Drugs Are Safe?

Prenatal vitamins, now available without a prescription, are safe to take during pregnancy. Ask your doctor 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, ask your doctor.

Condi­tion

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy*

Allergy

Antihistamines including:

Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton, Efidac, Teldrin)

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

Loratadine (Alavert, Claritin, Loradamed, Tavist ND Allergy)

Nasal spray oxymetazoline (Afrin, Neo-Synephrine) (Check with your doctor first.)

Steroid nasal spray (Rhinocort) (Check with your doctor first.)

Cold and Flu

 Robitussin (check which ones, some should not be use din 1st trimester), Trind-DM, Vicks Cough Syrup

Saline nasal drops or spray

Actifed, Dristan, Neosynephrine*, Sudafed (Check with your doctor first. Do not use in first trimester.)

Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Tylenol Cold

Warm salt/water gargle

*Do not take "SA" (sustained action) forms or "Multi-Symptom" forms of these drugs.

Consti­pa­tion

Citrucil

Colace

Fiberall/Fibercon

Metamucil

Milk of Magnesia

Senekot

Diarr­hea

For 24 hours, only after 12 weeks of pregnancy:

Imodium

Kaopectate

Parepectolin

First Aid Oint­ment

Bacitracin

J & J

Neosporin

Head­ache Tylenol (acetaminophen)
Heart­burn

Gaviscon

Maalox

Mylanta

Riopan

Titralac

TUMs

Hem­or­rhoids

Anusol

Preparation H

Tucks

Witch hazel

Nausea and Vomit­ing

Emetrex

Emetrol (if not diabetic)

Sea bands

Vitamin B6 (100 mg tablet)

Rashes

Benadryl cream

Caladryl lotion or cream

Hydrocortisone cream or ointment

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.

 

Continued

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 doctor 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 milligram capsules 4 times a day), and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, 25 milligram two or three times a day) work well.
  • Backache: chiropractic manipulation and physical therapy should be considered.
  • 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 potentially 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 doctor before taking it.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on August 03, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

CDC.

ACAAI: "When Pregnancy is Complicated by Allergies and Asthma."

OBFocus: "Medications Considered Safe for Use During Pregnancy," "Loratadine in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding."

Cleveland Clinic: "Medication Guidelines During Pregnancy."

KidsHealth: "Loratadine."

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