Medicines in Pregnancy: What’s Safe, Alternate Therapies & More

A pregnant woman buying medicines at a pharmacy

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Pregnancy is a time when you take good care of yourself and follow healthy habits. So, if you come down with the cold and flu or some other minor illness during your pregnancy, you are likely to be apprehensive about taking medications. Most medications for common day-to-day ailments are safe to consume even during pregnancy but it doesn’t hurt to be cautious.

How to Choose Medicines Safely during Pregnancy?

There are side-effects and reactions associated with all medicines even when you are not pregnant. So, there is no foolproof way of choosing perfectly safe medicines for common ailments during pregnancy. Thus, the best solution is to check with your doctor before you reach for those over-the-counter (OTC) remedies. Try to avoid all types of medication during the first trimester of your pregnancy because at this time, your developing baby is most vulnerable. And if you have been taking any prescription medicines since before your pregnancy, check with your doctor if it is safe to continue with it. Else, your doctor will be able to prescribe you an alternative.

Which Medications are Safe to Consume during Pregnancy?

A pregnant woman taking medicines

Prenatal vitamins are safe for consumption during pregnancy and essential too. Some OTCs are considered safe in pregnancy though checking with your doctor is the best thing to do. Here is a generic name list of medications you can take while pregnant for certain common conditions.

Condition Medicine
Acne Benzoyl peroxide
Allergy Loratadine, diphenhydramine, cetirizine
Constipation Methylcellulose, docusate sodium, sennosides, Calcium polycarbophil, magnesium hydroxide, mineral oil (30 ml) in juice
Cough (alcohol-free syrup) Dextromethorphan hydrobromide, dextromethorphan, guaifenesin
Diarrhoea Loperamide
Fever Acetaminophen
Gas Simethicone
Heartburn Calcium carbonate, famotidine, ranitidine
Haemorrhoids Hydrocortisone, witch hazel
Nausea / vomiting, motion sickness Dimenhydrinate, vitamin B-6, doxylamine succinate

Call your clinic if your pain is in your abdomen (stomach).


Call your clinic if you have an allergic reaction, or no relief.

Colloidal oatmeal, hydrocortisone, diphenhydramine
Sinus congestion and cold Chlorpheniramine, saline (sodium chloride) nasal sprays
Sleep problems doxylamine succinate
Sore throat Dyclonine hydrochloride, benzocaine, menthol
Vaginal yeast infection Butoconazole, clotrimazole, miconazole


If you have any pre-existing conditions that require continuous medication it is important to keep on taking these as per your doctor’s instructions. The risks of your illness may outweigh the effects of the medication on the baby and so your doctor is likely to prescribe the minimum required dosage to keep symptoms under control.

Which alternative Therapies are Considered Safe?

You can get relief from common ailments like a cold, allergies, fever, pains and aches, and digestive issues with the help of some simple home remedies. These are a good option since you can avoid medication altogether in most cases. Complementary and alternative medicine is also growing by leaps and bounds due to the holistic nature of their treatment and therapies. Homeopathy, kinesiology, reflexology, and hypnosis are just some of the branches that are gaining popularity.

  • Cold and Flu

Plenty of rest and warm fluids can provide immediate relief when you have the cold and flu during pregnancy. If your symptoms get worse, you could also try using saline nose drops for a blocked nose, a humidifier for congestion , and hot or cold packs to ease up the sinus pain. If a sore throat is bothering you, try a warm cup of decaffeinated tea with some honey or lemon added to it.

  • Aches and pains

Muscles pains and strains are a common occurrence during pregnancy given the various physical changes that your body goes through. Cold compresses and rest can prove useful in easing these discomforts. Prenatal massages are also a safe option when administered by a trained or certified professional.

  • Heartburn

Heartburn is a frequent complaint that surfaces during pregnancy. Avoiding large meals, fried and spicy food, as well as sleeping soon after a meal can help keep heartburn at bay.

  • Constipation and haemorrhoids

Two other problems that are common in pregnancy, these can be prevented by eating fibre rich food and staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

  • Morning sickness

Use of ginger can be helpful in keeping nausea down and help you handle morning sickness better.

  • Insomnia and stress

Relaxing aromatherapy oils such as lavender and rose might soothe you quickly.

Which Alternative Therapies should be Avoided?

All alternative therapies are not gentle or non-invasive. Also, there are plenty of natural remedies available in the market but all of these might not be safe when pregnant.

  • Castor oil is a home remedy for constipation, but it is to be avoided during pregnancy as it can lead to premature labour.
  • Herbal teas can contain a variety of ingredients and might have side-effects just as other prescription or OTC medicines.
  • Acupuncture is not guaranteed to be safe for pregnant women, so ideally it should be avoided during this crucial period in your life.
  • Certain herbs such as ginseng, juniper, liquorice, yarrow, as well as aromatherapy oils like sage, basil, myrrh, and thyme are not suggested for use by pregnant women due to the possibility of birth defects and causing premature labour.

Your doctor or healthcare professional is the best person to offer guidance on what alternative therapies can be safely used during your pregnancy.

There are some precautions you can take to minimize your risk of contracting certain illnesses when pregnant. Your immune system weakens during pregnancy and this is why you need to exercise caution. Be sure to wash your hands often, sleep well, eat healthy, exercise regularly, and avoid stress when pregnant. Getting the flu vaccine might also prove helpful during this time. It is always better to avoid medications during pregnancy but this does not mean that you have to suffer as a result. So, following doctor’s instructions and taking precautions is the best course of action.

Disclaimer: This information is just a guide and not a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional.