Taking Medication While Pregnant, What to Do, Tips, Helpful Advice

Posted April 25, 2019 by Mitch Fraker - See Editorial Guidelines

According to the Harvard Institute, in the time it takes to count to 10, more than 60 women become pregnant around the world.

Having a baby is one of the most wonderful and important milestones in your life and it can be an anxious time when trying to decide what is best for you and your new addition to the world. One of the most tricky times to make decisions based on you and your baby’s welfare is if you, unfortunately, become ill at any time during this critical time, or if you’re taking prescription medications.

Most medications you take during pregnancy cross the placenta and reach the baby, so what can you take while you are pregnant? Here’s the quick general answer, then we’ll dive into a few details.

pregnant medication

What Medication Can You Take While Pregnant?

Women have traditionally been advised to exercise caution when taking medication during pregnancy, as there’s no guarantee any drug is completely safe. Experts suggest pregnant women use medicines which have stood the test of time and avoid those which have had fewer data collected.

NOTE: Before taking any medications, check with your pharmacist, midwife or doctor.


This is such an important topic and there is a host of conflicting advice, which can make things even more difficult for the first time mother or newly pregnant woman, so before you reach for the medicine cabinet, let’s take a closer look at some information to help you when making a considered choice.

Should You Take Any Medication When Pregnant?

Whether or not you decide to take any medication is a case of personal choice and also making sure you always seek a professional health care specialist to discuss any concerns.

It’s also a useful option to look at using less invasive methods of treatment, for example using steam inhalation for cold symptoms is beneficial, or maybe taking ginger in small quantities either as a tea or grated and added to foods to assist with morning sickness.

Below are a few tips to assist you in making a decision…

  • If you were taking any prescription medications before you became pregnant, consult with your healthcare provider
  • Use a reputable brand
  • Explore natural methods to assist your symptoms

It is also reasonable to consider if you have, for example, a urinary tract infection and it is not treated, it could cause long term effects for both the mother and baby. If you’re prescribed any new medications please be sure to inform your health care provider that you may be or are pregnant.

Check With Health Care Providers Before Taking Any Medicines

According to a National Birth Defect Prevention study, 1 in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect. So understandably, pregnant mothers are more aware than ever before about the complications and risks surrounding medication at such an important time. This is the case for both medications prescribed by a doctor or that you have purchased from a store.

Other statistics discovered by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) found that medicine used during pregnancy has increased by almost 70 percent in the last 30 years.

This could be attributed in part to advances in medicine, more readily available pharmaceutical brands and products and lifestyle choices. Researches in this important study identified the medications most commonly used by women during the first trimester (the first three months of pregnancy).

Prescription Medications:

  • Birth control pills
  • Amoxicillin – a medicine to treat infections
  • Progesterone – a hormone to treat many conditions
  • Albuterol – a medicine to control asthma
  • Promethazine – medicine to assist with symptoms of allergies or nausea

Over-The-Counter Medicines

  • Acetaminophen – a pain killer
  • Ibuprofen – a pain killer
  • Docusate – a medicine to soften stool
  • Pseudoephedrine- medicine to treat the symptoms of colds
  • Aspirin – a medicine used to treat many conditions including pain
  • Naproxen – a medicine to assist with pain

Among the 54 most commonly used medicines, only two had ‘good to excellent’ data available to assess their risk. This leads us to the question of should you take any medication when pregnant?

Why Do Pregnant Women Take Medication?

There may come a time during your pregnancy or when planning your pregnancy, when you may feel a little under the weather and aren’t sure if you can take your usual prescribed over-the-counter medicines, prescribed or complementary and lifestyle medications.

Many pregnant mothers take micronutrient supplements before, during and after pregnancy to ensure they and their baby are receiving adequate levels of vitamins and minerals. A common one is folic acid, which is prescribed to prevent birth defects in the baby’s brain and spinal cord.

Morning sickness can give pregnant mothers many unpleasant symptoms during pregnancy which can be alleviated by medication.

Medication during pregnancy may also be necessary due to illnesses such as cough and colds, or to manage a pre-existing condition.

4 Tips to Help You Learn More About Medicines in Pregnancy

Being educated about your medications while pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant is paramount when considering taking any type of medicine, whether herbal, over-the-counter or prescribed from your Doctor.

Following the advice below will ensure you are doing whatever you can to stay safe for you and your baby.

  • Ask questions – always talk to your healthcare provider before changing any medication
  • Read the label – make sure you understand any potential risks if pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Make sure you are smart with what you find online by checking with a professional before you use an online recommended medication
  • Report – report any problems you have taking medications to your doctor

Below, we’ll expand a little on the right questions to ask your Doctor, Nurse or Midwife before taking medications.

pregnant doctor

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • Will I need to change my medications if I want to get pregnant or I am pregnant?
  • How might this medicine affect me and my baby?
  • What medicines should I avoid?
  • Will I need to take more or less of my medicines?
  • Can I keep taking this medicine when I start breastfeeding?
  • What kind of vitamins and supplements can I take?
  • What support is available for obtaining prescription medications

Following the above tips can make sure you are armed with the knowledge to make the best decision you can when wondering whether to use medications during your pregnancy.

Are Herbal Medications Safe for Me to Take During Pregnancy?

Although some medications are considered ‘safe’ during pregnancy the effects of other medications on your baby are largely unknown. This is certainly true of alternative medicine and supplements, so make sure you discuss any of the above you are taking with a healthcare professional, such as your doctor, midwife or pharmacist.

Although herbs are natural, not all herbs are safe to take when pregnant. If you are considering or already take herbal supplements or medicines, make sure you consult with a trained and experienced herbalist. The American pregnancy organization urges all pregnant women to ensure they also consult with their doctor first.

Many medical providers and professionals do not recommend herbal medicine due to the fact that research on the subject is limited. Unlike prescribed medication, natural herbs and vitamin supplements are not subject to the same level of scrutiny and evaluation.

According to the FDA (U.S Food and Drug Association), there are around 6 million pregnancies in the U.S each year and 50% of them will take at least one medication.

With so many pregnancies now taking place, there’s a wealth of information concerning common medications you can take while being pregnant, here’s some further information on those…

Common Medications You Can Take When Pregnant

Below is a list of more common symptoms and medications generally found to be safe to take when pregnant.

  • Headache – Tylenol
  • Heartburn – Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta Riopan, Titralac
  • Hemorrhoids – Anusol Preparation H, Tucks Witchhazel
  • Nausea and Vomiting – Emetrex Emetrol (if not diabetic) Sea bands Vitamin B6 (100g)

If pain is particularly severe, such as after surgery, for example, your doctor will usually prescribe a short course of opioid pain relievers which will not affect your unborn baby.

If you’re wondering as to whether you should continue in your usual prescribed course of medication, your doctor will offer advice on maybe altering the dose or swapping to a drug which is considered safer for your baby.

Doctors will also often recommend trying home treatments before taking medications:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water and warm liquids, like chicken soup or tea.
  • Gargle salt water to ease a sore throat.
  • Use saline nose drops to fight stuffiness.
  • Humidify the air in your room.
  • Use menthol rub on your chest.
  • Try nasal strips to open airways.
  • Suck on cough drops or lozenges.


Overall when considering whether to use medications of either over-the-counter medications, lifestyle supplements or prescribed, the general rule of thumb is to make sure at all times you consult with a medical practitioner before stopping or starting any new medications while you are pregnant.

We’re also available for advice and can help you with obtaining over 1,500 brand name medications through patient assistance programs for the set service fee of $50 per month for each medication. Make sure you get in touch with any questions you have concerning taking medications while pregnant.