Which Over-the-Counter Medications Can You Take While Pregnant?

Posted: Jul 20th 2021
Categories: OB/GYN

Today’s expert: Dr. Valerie Ulm of Trinity Medical OB/GYN’s East Aurora location. Dr. Ulm says that one of the most common questions she gets from mothers-to-be is regarding which medications are safe to take while you’re pregnant.

The major concern here is that some medications are known to cross the placenta – an organ that supplies the developing fetus with oxygen, sugar, and other important nutrients. Absorbing a substance with known pregnancy risk may harm the baby or cause health complications for mamas-to-be.

Postpartum ChangesWhat Does Over-the-Counter Mean?

At the pharmacy, “over-the-counter” refers to medications you don’t need a prescription to purchase. Common examples of over-the-counter medications are cold medicine, mild pain relievers, and digestive aids like antacids or anti-diarrheal remedies.

Over-the-Counter Medications Approved by an OB/GYN for Use While Pregnant

“For newly pregnant women, it can be overwhelming and scary to determine which over-the-counter medications are safe to treat common ailments in pregnancy. Your OB/GYN is there to help you every step of the way, and is always willing to answer questions about which medications/vitamins are safe, and which are not.

The best advice I can give is if you are unsure, never be afraid to ask! That is what we are here for.”

Valerie Ulm, DO – Trinity Medical WNY

The following products have been approved by an OB/GYN for use by pregnant women, with little to no known risk:

✔️Acetaminophen for pain relief (brand name: Tylenol)
✔️Antacid products like Tums
✔️Sleep aids like melatonin, or antihistamines like Benadryl
✔️Stool softeners
✔️Doxylamine to help reduce symptoms of morning sickness (brand name: Unisom)
✔️Antihistamines for allergy symptoms (brand names: Claritin and Zyrtec)
✔️Cold remedies such as expectorants (brand name: Mucinex), saline nasal spray, or a neti pot
✔️Vitamin B6

Recommended to Avoid

These are over-the-counter medications with known pregnancy risk:

❌NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) which include ibuprofen (brand names: Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (brand name: Aleve)
❌Bismuth subsalicylate (brand name: Pepto Bismol)
❌Ephedrine which can be found in some nasal decongestants

These lists are intended to be resources for educational purposes only. Exceptions may be made on an individualized basis, and directions may be different for women with chronic health issues. If you’re pregnant or think you may be pregnant, always check with your OB/GYN provider before using an over-the-counter product you’re unsure about. 

Schedule a Visit with Dr. Ulm

Valerie Ulm, DO

Dr. Valerie Ulm is a board certified doctor who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology. You can call (716) 458-1954 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ulm at our East Aurora or Alden practice.