Although some medicines are considered safe during pregnancy, the effects of other medicines on your unborn baby are unknown. Certain medicines can be most harmful to a developing baby when taken during the first three months of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant.

Illegal drugs

Street drugs are not good for your health, but they are even worse for your unborn baby's health, since drugs are passed to your baby while you are pregnant. Illegal drugs such as angel dust, cocaine, crack, heroin, LSD, marijuana, and speed increase the chance that your baby is born with addictions or serious health problems, or is born prematurely or underweight at birth. If you have been thinking about quitting drugs, now is the time to do it.

Let your health care provider (e.g., physician, pharmacist) know if you have ever used illegal drugs or if you have an addiction to any drugs so he or she can minimize the risk to your baby. You may also call 1.800.662.4357 (National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Service) for more information.

Prescription medicine guidelines

If you were taking prescription medicines before you became pregnant, please ask your health care provider about the safety of continuing these medicines as soon as you find out that you are pregnant.

Your health care provider will weigh the benefit to you and the risk to your baby when making his or her recommendation about a particular medicine. With some medicines, the risk of not taking them might be more serious than the potential risk associated with taking them.

For example, if you have a urinary tract infection, your health care provider might prescribe an antibiotic. If the urinary tract infection is not treated, it could cause long-term problems for both the mother and her baby.

If you are prescribed any new medicine, please inform your health care provider that you are pregnant. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of the newly prescribed medicine with your health care provider.

Non-prescription (over-the-counter) medicine guidelines

Prenatal vitamins, now available without a prescription, are safe and recommended to take during pregnancy. Ask your health care provider about the safety of taking other vitamins, herbal remedies, and supplements during pregnancy. Most herbal preparations and supplements have not been proven to be safe when taken during pregnancy. Generally, you should not take any over-the-counter medicine unless it is necessary.

The following medicines and home remedies have no known harmful effects during pregnancy when taken according to the package directions. If you want to know about the safety of any other medicine not listed here, please contact your health care provider.

Type of Remedy Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy
*Please Note: No drug can be considered 100% safe to use during pregnancy.
Allergy Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®)
Loratidine (Claritin®)
Cetirizine (Zyrtec®)
Cold and Flu Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)*
Dextromethorphan (Robitussin®)*
Guaifenesin (Mucinex® [plain]) *
Vicks Vapor Rub® mentholated cream
Mentholated or non-mentholated cough drops
(Sugar-free cough drops for gestational diabetes should not contain blends of herbs or aspartame)
Pseudoephedrine ([Sudafed®] after 1st trimester)
Acetaminophen (Tylenol®)*
Saline nasal drops or spray
Warm salt/water gargle

*Note: Do not take the "SA" (Sustained Action) form of these drugs or the "Multi-Symptom" form of these drugs.

Do not use Nyquil® due to its high alcohol content.
Diarrhea Loperamide ([Imodium®] after 1st trimester, for 24 hours only)
Constipation Methylcellulose fiber (Citrucel®), Docusate (Colace®),
psyllium (Fiberall®, Metamucil®),
polycarbophil (FiberCon®),
polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®)*
*Occasional use only
First Aid Ointment Bacitracin
Neomycin/polymyxin B/bacitracin (Neosporin®)
Headache Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Heartburn Aluminum hydroxide/magnesium carbonate (Gaviscon®)*
Famotidine (Pepcid AC®)
Aluminum hydroxide/magnesium hydroxide (Maalox®)
Calcium carbonate/magnesium carbonate (Mylanta®)
Calcium carbonate (Titralac®, Tums®)
Ranitidine (Zantac®)
*Occasional use only
Hemorrhoids Phenylephrine/mineral oil/petrolatum (Preparation H®)
Witch hazel (Tucks® pads or ointment)
Insect repellant N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET®)
Nausea and Vomiting Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
Vitamin B6
Rashes Diphenhydramine cream (Benadryl)
Hydrocortisone cream or ointment
Oatmeal bath (Aveeno®)
Sleep Diphenhydramine (Unisom SleepGels®, Benadryl)
Yeast Infection Miconazole (Monistat®)

© Copyright 1995-2016 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 3/8/2016...#4396