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What Medicine To Take and Avoid During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life. She experiences the wonder of creating new life within her own body, and awaits this new human being with great anticipation. However, during this joyous time, the body goes through many changes, and it is in a very delicate condition. Habits must be changed. Alcohol must be avoided, nutrition and vitamins must be given the utmost care, and stress and workloads must be reduced. There is also one thing that must be considered that may be most important of all: Taking medicine during pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a nine-month process. Of course, over the course of these nine months, pregnant women may become sick, just like anyone else. But, before you reach for that bottle of cough syrup or ibuprofen, make sure it is safe for consumption by pregnant women first. Here is a great guide to taking medicine during pregnancy – what to take, and what to avoid.

Cold Medicine

Pregnancy takes nine out the twelve months in any given year. Therefore, it is quite likely that pregnant women will be with child during cold and flu season. So, that means that women may need to take cold medicine during pregnancy.

Firstly, it is important to speak to your doctor before consuming any medicine during pregnancy. Try natural home remedies first. A nice, hot shower may help with congestion, as will chicken soup, vaporizers, or saline nasal washes. If those do not help, generally, the best things to safely take are the following:

  • Sudafed
  • Tylenol
  • Benadryl
  • Claritin
  • Zinc Lozenges

When taking medicine during pregnancy, it is also important to know what to avoid. A pregnant woman should never take the following:

  • Ibuprofren
  • Asprin
  • Anything that is herbal/not approved for consumption by the FDA

Perhaps the most important caveat with all of these drugs is that during the first trimester of pregnancy, women should not take any medication at all. This is when the developing fetus is most fragile, and things like organ development are occurring. This is especially true during the first twelve weeks. To learn more about the developing stages of pregnancy, check out our handy 20-week check-in guide.


Everyone knows that when you are in pain, all you want to do is get the fastest relief possible. Therefore, we often turn to painkillers – both over-the-counter and prescription. However, finding the right medicine during pregnancy to turn to for pain can often be an almost impossible task. Here is a list of what is generally safe to take and what to avoid.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is generally safe for general aches and pains during pregnancy. However, taking some time for a nap with a nice cold cloth on your forehead for a headache might be the better option. If that does not help, then reach for the Tylenol. You should avoid taking naproxen (Aleve), aspirin, ibuprofen, and anything not deemed safe by your doctor during pregnancy. Of course, always consult your doctor about which medicine during pregnancy is safe to take. Every pregnancy and every woman is unique.

Medicine for Digestive Discomfort

Heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, and other digestive issues can be an absolute nightmare. Further, pregnant women often suffer from such ailments. However, before you reach for whatever you have in your bathroom cabinet to combat these symptoms, it is crucial to make sure that what you have on hand is a safe choice of medicine during pregnancy.

Heartburn can happen more frequently than normal during pregnancy, due to hormonal changes. Therefore it is important to know what medicine to take for relief.

While medications that can be bought right off the shelf, such as Tums, Rolaids, and Maalox are great. However, there is magnesium in these medications, which could affect the contraction process as a woman goes into labor. Therefore it is, once again, best to consult your doctor before taking any medicine during pregnancy for heartburn.

Psychiatric Medications

Women who suffer from mental health conditions may have the most difficult time when it comes to safely taking medicine during pregnancy. It is already a most challenging task to find the right combination of medications to treat most mental health conditions, and pregnancy only complicates that. Many mental health medications have serious side effects and said side effects could be dangerous to a fetus.

The most common types of medications prescribed for depression, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are generally considered safe for pregnant women to take. These include drugs such as fluoxetine (Prozac). Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are safe as well. These are drugs such as duloxetine (Cymbalta).

Other disorders are more complicated. For instance, lithium therapy is a drug that has long been used to treat bipolar disorder. However, this has been associated with increased risks of fetal heart defects, so lithium should be avoided during pregnancy.

The ideal way to manage mental health treatment during pregnancy is to figure out a plan of action for the woman with the mental health condition prior to conception. This is not always possible, of course. In the end, the woman should work with her obstetrician, as well as with her mental health care provider to determine which medicine during pregnancy is right for her.

The Bottom Line

Pregnancy can be a joyous time, but it comes with many challenges when it comes to staying comfortable and healthy, all while protecting your baby. The important thing is to stay healthy. You can ease associated back pain with these tips, without taking medicine during pregnancy that may harm your baby. You can safely exercise to relieve stress, stay active, and keep fit.

Pregnancy can come with many unexpected symptoms as your body changes and your baby grows inside you. In fact, we all know of the common symptoms – morning sickness during the first trimester, back pain, heartburn, and the like. But there are also symptoms people rarely discuss – we even have a list of them here. These might not necessarily cause you to need to take medicine during pregnancy, but some might.

Ideally, women will not take medicine during pregnancy. The reality is, however, that many have to for various reasons. Do not despair, though – there are many safe ways to keep yourself from suffering while keeping your developing baby safe. Taking medicine during pregnancy does not have to mean that you are putting your baby in jeopardy. Just consult your doctor before taking anything you are unsure about, and you will have a safe, healthy, and happy pregnancy.

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