As soon as you see a positive pregnancy test, you start questioning every medication you take, and for a good reason. Many of the over-the-counter drugs in your cabinet shouldn’t be taken while you’re expecting.
When you’re suffering from pregnancy symptoms, it can be annoying to spend your time Googling which medication is okay when all you want is relief. That’s why we’ve created this thorough and handy go-to guide. If you want quick answers when you need them, bookmark this page or save this link!
The advice provided in this post is general information, so you should check with your doctor and always follow the medication’s label.
You should also know that many medications haven’t been thoroughly tested on pregnant women specifically. That means while certain drugs are recommended over others, they may not be 100% safe for everyone.
Many times, doctors will recommend trying safe natural solutions before medication, so we’re also including some home remedies for each pregnancy symptom.
Ready to learn which over-the-counter medications are okay to take? Read the lists below.
What Can Pregnant Women Take for Pain and Headaches?
Whether it be leg, foot or back pain, aches can be a common pregnancy symptom.
The FDA recommends that you talk to your doctor before taking any pain medication during pregnancy. If you tend to suffer from a certain type of pain (ex. headaches), it’s a good idea to plan ahead by asking him or her what’s safest to take. When considering a medication, they will typically weigh the benefits and risks to determine if it’s a good idea. If your pain persists for more than 5 days while taking pain medication, you should also talk to your physician.
In general, doctors say it’s okay to take these over-the-counter pain medications short-term, only when needed, during pregnancy:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol Regular or Extra Strength)
- NO NSAIDS after32 weeks (Aleve, Advil, Motrin, Voltaren Emulgel, etc.). Before the third trimester, ask your doctor to weigh the benefits and risks.
Home remedies for pregnancy pain:
- Heating bottles or pads
- Ice packs/cold cloths
- Relaxation techniques (breathing, mindfulness, yoga, meditation etc.)
- Physical therapy or seeing a chiropractor (make sure to tell them you’re pregnant)
What Cold Medicine Can Pregnant Women Take?
If you’re pregnant during flu season, it’s likely that you will experience some cold symptoms, whether it’s the sniffles or a sore throat. Even if you don’t get sick, pregnancy hormones can increase blood flow and cause stuffiness.
These are the cold medicines that are generally okay to take during pregnancy:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol Flu Maximum Strength & Maximum Strength Night)
- Saline nasal drops
- Saline spray
- Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, BUT avoid in the first trimester)
- Dextromethorphan (Robitussin, BUT avoid multi-symptom products with “DM” in the name)
- Guaifenesin (plain Mucinex, BUT avoid in the first trimester)
- Most cough drops (Halls, Ricola)
- Docosanol (Abreva for cold sores)
- Nasal strips (for pregnancy stuffiness)
- Vicks Vapor Rub® mentholated cream
Home remedies to relieve cold symptoms or pregnancy stuffiness:
- Humidifier or steam (you can buy a face streamer or simply run a hot shower while in the bathroom)
- Rub petroleum jelly inside your nose using a swab
- Neti pot
- Lemon, honey and hot water drink
- Warm water and salt gurgle
- Snotty Buddy— it’s designed for babies, but can be equally effective if blowing your nose isn’t helping. You’ll just need a willing partner to “suck” up the snot (don’t worry, it’s 100% clean!).
What Can Pregnant Women Take for Heartburn?
Heartburn can be a common pregnancy symptom for a couple of reasons. Firstly, progesterone can relax the stomach valve that prevents the acid from entering the esophagus. Also, in the third trimester, as the baby grows, she puts pressure on the stomach and pushes acid into the esophagus.
Pregnant women can occasionally take these medications for heartburn:
- Aluminum hydroxide/magnesium carbonate (Gaviscon, Maalox)
- Calcium carbonate (Titralac, Tums)
- Calcium carbonate/magnesium carbonate (Mylanta)
Home Remedies to Relieve Heartburn:
- Avoid trigger foods (such as spice, fatty or sugary foods, etc.)
- Eat smaller meals more frequently as opposed to 3 big meals
- Eat slower
- Sit, stand or move after a meal rather than lying down
- Elevate your head while sleeping using a wedge or extra pillows
- Try ginger (ginger beverages or ginger candy)
- Eat yogurt or a glass of milk to soothe the symptoms
- Drink chamomile tea and honey
- Drink peppermint tea
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing rather than tight pieces
Gas Pains While Pregnant: Safe Options
A build-up of gas can cause severe abdominal pain. Unfortunately, women can experience more gas problems during pregnancy because of their increased progesterone levels.
These medications are generally occasionally safe to take during pregnancy for gas pains:
- Simethicone (Gas-X, Flatulex, Mylanta Gas, Mylicon, Phazyme, Maalox Anti-Gas)
Home remedies to relieve gas pains:
- Eat smaller meals more frequently as opposed to 3 big meals
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid trigger foods
- Avoid carbonated drinks (soda, sparkling water, etc.)
- Treat constipation
- Some people tend to swallow more air when they’re stressed. De-stress using these 9 ways.
- Drink peppermint or ginger tea
What Can Pregnant Women Take for Constipation?
About half of pregnant women experience constipation, according to the American Pregnancy Association. This could be for a couple of reasons, including the growing pressure on your rectum and changing hormones. There are a few over-the-counter constipation medications that you can take, but talk to your doctor before taking any laxatives or stool softeners on this list.
Many doctors will say it’s generally okay for pregnant women to take:
- Milk of magnesia
- Docusate (Colace, talk to your doctor before taking laxatives)
- Bisacodyl (Dulcolax, talk to your doctor before taking laxatives)
- Senna (Senokot)
- Magnesium citrate supplements or drink mixes
Home remedies for pregnancy constipation:
- Eat more fiber (vegetables, beans, lentils, bran cereals).
- Increase fiber intake slowly.
- Drink more water. According to The Institute of Medicine, pregnant women should be getting 10 8-ounce cups of water/other fluids each day.
- If you started taking an iron supplement, that may be a cause of constipation. Talk to your doctor about alternatives such as a higher quality supplement or a liquid iron supplement.
- Exercise regularly, even if it’s just a walk or quick yoga session.
- Use a Squatty Pottyor similar product that elevates your legs while on the toilet.
Can You Take a Sleep Aid While Pregnant?
From aches to the uncomfortableness of a growing belly, it can be hard to get some decent shut-eye during pregnancy. Although you should try home remedies first, there are some drugs that can help you sleep in the short-term. However, if you’ve been having trouble sleeping long-term, talk to your doctor. No over-the-counter sleep aid should be taken regularly because your body could start to depend on it.
These sleep aids are generally safe to take occasionally in low doses:
- Tylenol PM
Home remedies for sleeping during pregnancy:
- Use a pregnancy pillowfor comfort
- Lower the thermostat
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon or entirely
- Avoid drinking excessive fluids near bedtime
- Avoid exercising near bedtime
- Treat issues that are preventing sleep (ex. leg cramps, headaches, etc.)
- Do something relaxing before bed to clear your mind (reading, yoga, meditation, spending time with family, etc.)
- Avoid technology and artificial light before bedtime. Don’t bring technology into the bedroom.
- Try a short nap during the day, if needed. Long naps can make it difficult to sleep at night.
- For more tips, read our Ultimate Guide for Sleeping During Pregnancy
Best Medication for Yeast Infections During Pregnancy
The chemical makeup of vaginal discharge during pregnancy can change, which can lead to a yeast infection. Although prevention is the best method, over-the-counter medications are available to alleviate symptoms. If you’re not sure if it’s actually a yeast infection, see your doctor since there could be other causes.
These medications are generally okay to use to treat a yeast infection during pregnancy:
- Vagisil cream
- Clotrimazole (Canesten, Mycelex, Lotrimin AF)
- Miconazole (Monistat)
- Terconazole (Terazol)
- Butoconazole (Gynazole-1)
- AVOID oral fluconazole (Diflucan), especially during the first trimester
Some midwives recommend home remedies for yeast infections such as:
- Ingesting garlic or using garlic vaginal suppositories
- Eating plain, no-sugar-added yogurt with the good bacteria “lactobacillus.” Some people find relief when it’s applied topically.
- Tea tree oil diluted with water applied to the area (tea tree oil can be strong, so be careful!)
- Avoiding sugar, which yeast feeds off of
Is This Medication Ok?
If you have any questions about a medication and cannot get a hold of your doctor, consider calling a helpline staffed with experts who can provide advice.
- MotherToBaby: Call 866-626-6847or use live chat
- MotherRisk: Call 1-877-439-2744
What home remedies do you use instead of taking medication? Comment your tips below! If you have any pregnant friends, be sure to share this post to keep them safe, too!
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