What to Avoid

Your Guide to Pregnancy Medicine: What’s Safe and What’s Not

What drugs can you take while pregnant? What are some drugs not to take when pregnant? Find the answers to these questions and more in our comprehensive guide to prescription and over-the-counter medication while pregnant.

Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean other health conditions go away. Odds are, no matter what precautions you take, you may develop a cold or other seasonal allergy. You may even continue to deal with chronic conditions before, during and after your pregnancy. But, where before you may have taken a prescription or over-the-counter medication without thinking, being pregnant now gives you some pause.

You may wonder: What is dangerous medicine during pregnancy? What can I take without harming myself or my unborn child?

It’s good that you’re asking this question and that you’re reading up on pregnancy medicine. The CDC reports that 9 in 10 women take medicine during their pregnancy — but not all of them understand the intricacies of prescription and over-the-counter drugs while pregnant. Some women even inadvertently put themselves and their unborn children at risk by taking something as simple as a previously harmless allergy or pain medication.

Medication that seems harmless at other times during your life may not be so during pregnancy. That’s why it’s so important to understand the acceptable medicine pregnancy list as early as possible. Only then can you find the relief you are seeking with the reassurance that you are doing what is best for your body and your baby.

Remember: Your doctor is always the best source of information on what drugs you can take while pregnant. Always discuss this topic with them during your prenatal visits. The information presented in this article is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice.

What are Safe Drugs to Take While Pregnant?

At the top of the list of safe drugs while pregnant are prenatal vitamins. In fact, prenatal vitamins are recommended in every pregnancy to give yourself and your unborn baby the healthiest pregnancy possible. Prenatal vitamins ensure you receive the increased amount of vitamins and nutrients needed to sustain your body and your baby’s growth during the next nine months.

When it comes to other safe drugs to take while pregnant, you will always want to speak with your obstetrician first and foremost. They can give you the best idea of which prescription and over-the-counter medications they recommend for your situation.

It’s important to remember that no drug can be considered 100 percent safe during pregnancy. But, here are some of the most common drugs that expectant mothers are generally safe taking:

  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
  • Claritin (loratadine)
  • Robitussin
  • Sudafed
  • Acetaminophen
  • Metamucil
  • Neosporin
  • TUMS
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Monistat

To be safe, you may wish to try home remedies (such as warm saltwater gargles and steam inhalation) before you take any medication during pregnancy. Do not take any over-the-counter drugs while pregnant unless it is absolutely necessary, and always talk to your doctor beforehand.

For a more extensive safe pregnancy medicine list, click on the conditions below:

  • Cough or cold
  • Allergies
  • Nausea
  • Migraine or body pain
  • Heartburn
  • Depression

What is Dangerous Medicine During Pregnancy?

First off, let’s make one thing clear: Illicit or street drugs are at the top of list of drugs not to take while pregnant. Even if you are not pregnant, these drugs are not good for your health; if you take them while pregnant, you will pass them onto your developing baby, increasing the chance that you baby is born with many possible problems. Drugs such as cocaine, crack, heroin, LSD, marijuana and speed are never safe to take during pregnancy.

If you are struggling with substance abuse while pregnant, know that there is support out there to help you move toward the healthiest pregnancy possible.

Before we go into more detail about what drugs not to take when pregnant, you need to first understand why it’s so important to speak with your doctor. Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs may come with a risk to an expectant mother and her developing baby — but, if those drugs are being used to treat serious conditions such as depression or diabetes, the damage done to the mother and child by not taking those drugs may outweigh the risk of taking them. Only a doctor can determine your personal medicine pregnancy list based on your medical history.

If you have completed this step, your doctor will provide a pregnancy medicine list that will likely include some of these potentially dangerous medications:

  • Codeine
  • Ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin)
  • Aspirin
  • Isotretinoin (also known as Accutane)
  • Certain antidepressants
  • Certain cancer chemotherapies

Remember: Some of these medications may be necessary to maintaining your health during pregnancy, so always speak to your doctor before establishing a medical protocol for the remainder of your pregnancy.

Any drug taken incorrectly or in excess can cause damage to a developing fetus. If you are unsure about whether a drug is safe during pregnancy, talk to your doctor before taking it. If you are struggling with drug addiction, talk to your doctor or a confidential helpline to start getting the support you need for overcoming your addiction and giving your baby the best possible start at life.