Pregnant individuals are not exempt from illnesses, but the options can be limited when it comes to safe medications during pregnancy. Your doctor will caution you about certain over-the-counter medicines and propose alternatives that are safe for you to take. It is easy to deal with minor illnesses, such as headaches, fever or even flu. But what if it’s something serious or chronic, such as diabetes, hypertension or asthma?
You need to know what medications to avoid when pregnant and what medicines are safe to take. Dr. Folch-Hayek, OBGYN at Family Health Centers San Diego shares some insights in this article.
Safe Medications During Pregnancy—Functions and Limitations
“Don’t go to Dr. Google,” says Dr. Folch-Hayek. Her advice is to seek your OBGYN’s opinion when it comes to medications. It doesn’t matter whether you are treating a simple headache or a serious heart condition. Talking to an authority in prenatal care is paramount before deciding on your own.
Safe Medications During Pregnancy
Don’t worry. In case you get sick, there are a number of over-the-counter medications safe for pregnancy. These will not harm your unborn child if you take them. They will also not have adverse effects on your physical health, provided you take them in moderation and under your doctor’s supervision.
The following is a list of safe medications during pregnancy:
Medications for pain relief: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) a.k.a Paracetamol
Is Tylenol safe for pregnancy? Yes, it is an over-the-counter medicine safe for pregnancy. Doctors recommend Tylenol as the safest pain reliever you can take during pregnancy, even in the first trimester. You can take four 500-milligram tablets per day, once every four hours. The maximum dosage allowed is 4000 milligrams. There is no solid evidence of health risks to your offspring with prolonged intake of Tylenol during pregnancy. As much as possible though, regulate your intake per your doctor’s advice.
Take Tylenol to treat headaches, muscle aches and pains, fever, symptoms of cold or flu, and allergies. Remember to ask your doctor first which of the Tylenol variations you can take as there are Tylenol plain and extra strength.
Safe medicines for digestive issues
Pregnant individuals are prone to digestive upsets like heartburn and GERD due to hormonal changes and fetus growth. Diarrhea and gas pains are also likely to occur. It’s a good thing that some antacid brands are not harmful to you or your child. With others, extra precaution is needed. Most doctors recommend:
- Maalox, Rolaids, and Tums for heartburn or GERD (antacid)
- Gas-X, Gaviscon, Mylicon for gas pain (simethicone)
- Immodium for diarrhea
Beware of antacids with magnesium or high levels of sodium, especially during the last trimester as these ingredients could affect the muscles contractions during labor. Aluminum carbonate or hydroxide on the label are also not recommended because these contribute to constipation during pregnancy. Though over-the-counter, avoid consuming them without a doctor’s advice.
Safe over-the-counter medicines for cough and cold
Aside from acetaminophen, the following medicines are safe to take if you are feeling under the weather due to a cold or cough:
- Robitussin and Robitussin DM (Guaifenesin + dextromethorphan)
- Vicks VapoRub
- Cough drops
Tylenol is also a great relief for allergic reactions, but in case it’s not available, there are other safe alternatives such as:
- Benadryl tablets
- Chlorpheniramine antihistamine (chlor-Trimetron)
- Saline (nasal spray)
- Sinus rinse (Neti-pot)
- Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra
Get a Heads-up on What Medications to Avoid When Pregnant
The last thing you want is to put you and your baby’s health at risk during pregnancy. So, as you get to know the list of safe medications, it is also important to know what medications to avoid when pregnant.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Pregnant individuals should refrain from taking NSAIDs, especially from the second trimester on. However, it is best to avoid them at any time during the entire prenatal period, unless advised by your prenatal care provider.
The intake of NSAIDs could result in low amniotic fluid, also known as oligohydramnios. If this happens, the baby’s lung tissues fail to develop fully, causing them to suffer from breathing difficulty during delivery. Either the baby would require intensive care with breathing apparatus or would not survive the condition. The worst thing about low amniotic fluid is the absence of long-term treatment.
The list of NSAID medicines is long, but the following are the most common sold over the counter:
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
Harmful medications for skin diseases
Hormonal changes, diet and supplements may affect your skin as well. Sometimes, you want to get rid of an acne breakout or continue the medication for an existing skin disease, but even topicals could be harmful due to the chemicals they contain. Stay away from the following medications, whether you are pregnant already or are planning to be:
- Isotretinoin (Accutane, which is now Absorica, Claravis, Myorisan, Amnesteem, Zenatane)
- Thalidomide (Thalomid) for multiple myeloma and certain types of skin diseases
Are There Safe Medications for People with Chronic Illness During Pregnancy?
Some pregnant individuals who have chronic illnesses may face more worries about their medication. The medications you are currently taking for your chronic illness might be bad for the baby, making the situation complicated. But a safe and healthy pregnancy is possible despite your serious condition.
Chronic illnesses are medical conditions that last for a year or more and require ongoing treatment. These include high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, asthma, epilepsy, HIV and mental health disorders. During pregnancy, the risk of infertility, congenital disabilities and premature labor increases with chronic illness.
With chronic illnesses, the list of safe medications during pregnancy can be provided by your doctor. Remember the following:
Always ask your doctor before stopping, continuing or switching your medicines.
The medications you take and the frequency of intake depends on the instructions that your prenatal care provider or the physician who monitors your health condition provides.
Seek your doctor’s advice before getting pregnant.
The safest way to go about your pregnancy is to prepare yourself and ask your doctor first. Not only will you be advised on the best time to get pregnant, but you can also get a structured medication plan. Planning your pregnancy will keep the risks of complications at a minimum.
Early and regular prenatal care will ensure you and your baby’s well-being.
Pregnancy is in and of itself a sensitive time for you. The presence of chronic disease makes it even more serious. That said, consulting a certified prenatal care provider early and regularly will increase your chances of a hassle-free pregnancy. A guided pregnancy gives you a heads-up on the safe medications during pregnancy, and what medications to avoid when pregnant.
Let a Certified Prenatal Care Provider Guide You with the Risky and Safe Medications During Pregnancy
There are safe medications during pregnancy, which can help you cope and get through the pregnancy with confidence and ease. But be sure to discuss any condition you may have with a certified prenatal care provider, who is an expert in pregnancy medications and beyond.
Our team of prenatal care professionals, physicians and OBGYNs at Family Health Centers of San Diego can help you with your pregnancy. We specialize in prenatal counseling and complete prenatal care, which are services that you need in this delicate period.
Our comprehensive prenatal care plan designed for general or unique pregnancy conditions ensures that you receive premiere care and guidance. We do our best to ensure that you and your baby’s health are properly handled.