Medicine and Supplements: What's Safe

Medicine isn’t necessarily a no-no during pregnancy. Several over-the-counter (OTC) medications and home remedies are generally considered safe when taken according to package directions and with your healthcare provider’s approval.

But others, as well as many prescription drugs and herbal preparations, are not.

Always check with your healthcare provider before taking any medication or supplement.

The following OTC medications and home remedies are usually considered safe during pregnancy:

  • For allergies:  Benadryl or Claritin
  • For colds and flu:  Tylenol (acetaminophen); warm salt water for gargling and saline nasal drops
  • For constipation:  Metamucil, Citrucel and other fiber supplements; bran cereal and other high-fiber foods
  • For first-aid ointment:  Bacitracin, Neosporin and other antibiotic creams for external use
  • For headache:  Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • For heartburn:  Maalox, Mylanta and Tums
  • For hemorrhoids:  Sitz baths, Preparation H, Anusol HC, Tucks Pads and witch hazel
  • For nausea and vomiting:  Vitamin B6, up to 75 mg per day; sea bands; snacking on Saltines or other dry, salty crackers first thing in the morning and whenever your stomach is empty; fresh or crystallized ginger or ginger tea
  • For rashes:  Caladryl, Benadryl, Aveeno Oatmeal Bath and hydrocortisone cream—but consult your care provider before using any corticosteroid creams stronger than hydrocortisone (such as Kenalog or triamcinolone cream, Lidex and fluocinonide)

Remember that almost anything you eat or drink enters your bloodstream, crosses the placenta, and enters your baby’s bloodstream. So, while pain relievers and other nonprescription medicines can help you feel better, use them only when necessary, and always with your healthcare provider’s approval. 

Prescription Medications

If you’re taking medications prescribed for conditions unrelated to pregnancy, confirm that these are safe during pregnancy. If not, alternatives may be available. Talk with your healthcare provider.

Are Herbal Remedies Safe?

Herbal remedies, whether in tea, powder or other forms, can be risky during pregnancy, mainly because so little research has been done to confirm their safety.

In addition, the government doesn’t regulate herbal remedies, so dosage and strength can vary from brand to brand, and even from bottle to bottle within the same brand.

The herbs are often pure, potent plant extracts that could have unexpected side effects or mix badly with other medications. Before using any herbal supplement, talk with your healthcare provider.

The wisest course is to make sure that your diet is well balanced, includes lots of whole foods rather than processed ones, and that you take your prenatal vitamin daily. 

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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