Pregnancy comes with its own set of unique ailments, in addition to the usual stuff like colds, headaches and infection. While nothing is 100% guaranteed to be safe to take during pregnancy, there are many over the counter medications that are considered to be low risk, and should have no affect on you or your baby during pregnancy. Some women avoid taking medication during pregnancy, and instead prefer to tough it out. Obviously, there are times when medication is required during pregnancy — to treat life threatening illness or infection.
While there are several safe medications to take during pregnancy, most doctors will recommend that you weigh the cost versus benefit of taking medication during pregnancy. For instance, if you’re slightly stuffy, you may want to forgo taking a decongestant to minimize your baby’s exposure to the drug. However, if your stuffy nose is threatening to turn to sinusitis, you might want to take a decongestant. You may choose to find other ways to deal with minor headaches, but if you suffer with severe headaches, you should consider taking a medication so that you can function normally.
If you have any questions about what are safe medications to take during pregnancy, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor, pharmacist or consult the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists website for a list of safe medications. Medications are typically classed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in categories according to degree of danger, from category A, which is the safest, to category X, which should be avoided during pregnancy. Remember, as with any medication, both prescribed and over the counter, follow your doctor’s instructions or the instruction on the label.
Colds, Coughs, Sinusitis and Allergies
An unfortunate ailment often associated with pregnancy is nasal congestion, resulting in stuffy, runny noses, and sinusitis. Guaifenesin, an expectorant; Dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant; and cough drops are considered safe to take during pregnancy. Although most doctors will tell you that medications like Sudafed® which contains pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are safe medications to take during pregnancy, it can interfere with the blood flow to the baby’s placenta. Take any of these medications on a limited basis. If you suffer from allergies, Chlorpheniramine, Loratadine and Diphenhydramine, all antihistamines, are safe medications to take during pregnancy.
Aches and Pains
If you’re seeking relief from the minor aches and pains of pregnancy such as back aches and headaches, you can take Acetaminophen, the drug found in Tylenol®. Ibuprofen, or Advil® is discouraged during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester, as is Aspirin.
Indigestion, Heartburn, Gas, Stomach Upset and Diarrhea
Along with pregnancy comes digestive woes — due to hormones and moving organs, everything slows down. Heartburn may be a daily annoyance, as well as indigestion, bloating and stomach upset. You can safely take antacids such as Tums®, Rolaids®, and Maalox® for heartburn — some of these even contain extra calcium which comes in handy! For that bloaty, gassy feeling, try simethicone in products such as Mylicon® or Gas-X®. If you’re suffering with diarrhea, you can take Loperamide found in Imodium®, Pepto Diarrhea Control® and Kaopectate II®.
Constipation and Hemorrhoids
For constipation and hard stools, try adding fiber to your diet. If that doesn’t help, some safe medications to take during pregnancy to alleviate constipation include Polycarbophil, found in Fiber-Lax®; Psyllium, found in Metamucil®; and Methylcellulose, found in Citrucel®. To soften the stool, try stool softeners such as Milk of Magnesia or Colace®. If you’re suffereing from constipation, then you’ll most likely end up with hemorrhoids at some point in your pregnancy. You can safely use over the counter hemorrhoid creams such as Tucks® and Preparation H® to treat hemorrhoids.
If you’re suffering with insomnia as many pregnant women are, try home remedies before resorting to medicinal sleep aids. If you find that nothing else helps, you can use Diphenhydramine, found in Benadryl®, Nytol® and Unisom®, or Doxylamine succinate, found in Unisom®.
For first aid treatment, you can use polysporin or Cortaid®. For fungal or yeast infections, you can safely use Clotrimazole, found in Lorimin AF®; Miconazole, found in Monistat 3®; Butenafine; Tolnaftate, found in Tinactin® or Tioconazole.
With any over the counter medication, consult with your doctor before taking them during pregnancy. If you are high risk, or have a particular condition, your doctor may advise against certain over the counter medications.