Pregnancy-Safe Medications

If you’re pregnant, you’ll want to be very careful when taking medications without first discussing them with your doctor. While some prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications are safe to take during pregnancy, others can cause birth defects, miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth. Also, certain medications may be safe

Taking Medications During Pregnancy

Your OB-GYN is your best resource whenever you have questions about what is and isn’t safe during pregnancy. That includes questions about medications, as well as any vitamins and supplements you take.

Your doctor knows your medical history and can help assess which medications are safe for you to start or continue taking. He or she can also help you weigh the risks and benefits of medications you may need during pregnancy. For example, suddenly stopping a medication you took before you became pregnant could cause problems, and your doctor can help determine if you should adjust your dosage or change your treatment. If you are planning to get pregnant, check with your doctor now to discuss any changes to current medications that may need to be made before you conceive.

Although asking your doctor about whether a medication is safe is always the best first step, you can find some information about its safety on the label. For both prescription and OTC medications, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assigns one of the following letter grades indicating whether it is safe for pregnant women:

  • A: Seems to be safe during pregnancy
  • B: Probably safe during pregnancy
  • C: Possibly unsafe but the benefit of the medication could outweigh the risk
  • D: Probably unsafe but may be needed in emergency situations
  • X: Should never be taken during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant

The FDA is currently revising this system to include more information about whether a medication is also safe during breastfeeding.

Also, remember that the FDA does not regulate nutritional and herbal supplements the same way it regulates medications. Always let your OB-GYN know if you are taking supplements. He or she can advise you about their safety and whether to continue taking them. Your doctor can offer personalized recommendations that are more reliable than information you might find online.

What Medications Are Safe During Pregnancy?

Always check with your doctor before starting a new medication while pregnant. The following medications are considered safe:

Allergy and Cold Medications

  • Certain antihistamines
  • Hydrocortisone cream

Nausea Medicine and Digestive Aids

  • Certain antacids
  • Polyethylene glycol 3350 for constipation

Some herbal supplements or teas, such as peppermint and ginger, may be safe and can help with nausea, but check with your doctor before taking them.

Medications for Pain and Other Conditions

  • Acetaminophen
  • Certain antidepressants
  • Insulin
  • Metformin
  • Many antibiotics
  • Prenatal vitamins and folic acid
  • Topical creams to treat yeast infections

What Medications Are Not Safe During Pregnancy?

This is not a complete list. If you are unsure if something is safe, discuss it with your doctor before taking it. The following medications are unsafe for women who are pregnant:

Allergy and Cold Medications

  • Some antihistamines
  • Some cough syrups
  • Expectorant
  • Decongestants

Nausea Medicine and Digestive Aids

  • Bismuth subsalicylate
  • Castor oil
  • Imodium
  • Mineral oil

Medications for Pain and Other Conditions

  • Azidothymidine (AZT)
  • Certain antidepressants
  • Nicotine patches (although preferable to smoking)
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, including ibuprofen and naproxen (These may be OK to take early in pregnancy, but not late pregnancy. Check with your doctor.)
  • Opioids, including morphine
  • Regular vitamins

In addition, the following prescription medications could cause birth defects or other problems:

  • Captopril
  • Carbamazepine
  • Enalapril
  • Isotretinoin
  • Paroxetine
  • Thalidomide
  • Tramadol
  • Valproic acid
  • Warfarin

Check with your doctor immediately if you are taking any of these medications and are pregnant.

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