Medicine Guidelines During Pregnancy

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/Alcohol

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 many possible problems. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol or uses drugs during her pregnancy, so does her baby. These substances can pass through the placenta and to the baby through the umbilical cord. Alcohol, tobacco, and drugs can lead to premature birth, birth defects, low birth weight, placental abruption, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, miscarriage, stillbirth, and developmental/behavior problems. According to the March of Dimes, there is no amount of alcohol or marijuana that is proven to be safe during pregnancy. You may know some women who drank regularly during pregnancy and had seemingly healthy babies. You may know some women who had very little alcohol during pregnancy and had babies with serious health conditions. Every pregnancy is different and drinking alcohol may hurt one baby more than another. Due to their small liver, babies cannot break down the alcohol as well as you can. Heroin is a street drug made from poppy plant seeds and is usually injected with a needle, but it can be smoked or snorted. Using heroin during pregnancy can be dangerous, but don’t stop taking it without getting treatment from your healthcare provider first. Quitting suddenly can cause severe problems. There are drugs that help you gradually reduce your dependence on heroin such as methadone or buprenorphine.

Let your healthcare 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. We are here to offer treatment and support. 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 healthcare provider about the safety of continuing these medicines as soon as you find out that you are pregnant.

Your healthcare 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 healthcare 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 healthcare provider that you are pregnant. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of the newly prescribed medicine with your healthcare provider.

Type of Remedy: Allergy

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®)
  • Loratidine (Claritin®)
  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec®)

Type of Remedy: Cold and Flu

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy

  • 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.

Type of Remedy: Diarrhea

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy

  • Loperamide ([Imodium®] after 1st trimester, for 24 hours only)

Type of Remedy: Constipation

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy

  • Methylcellulose fiber (Citrucel®)
  • Docusate (Colace®)
  • psyllium (Fiberall®, Metamucil®)
  • polycarbophil (FiberCon®)
  • polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®)*

*Occasional use only

Type of Remedy: First Aid Ointment

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy

  • Bacitracin
  • Neomycin/polymyxin B/bacitracin (Neosporin®)

Type of Remedy: Headache

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Type of Remedy: Heartburn

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy

  • 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

Type of Remedy: Hemorrhoids

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy

  • Phenylephrine/mineral oil/petrolatum (Preparation H®)
  • Witch hazel (Tucks® pads or ointment)

Type of Remedy: Insect repellant

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy

  • N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET®)

Type of Remedy: Nausea and Vomiting

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Vitamin B6

Type of Remedy: Rashes

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy

  • Diphenhydramine cream (Benadryl)
  • Hydrocortisone cream or ointment
  • Oatmeal bath (Aveeno®)

Type of Remedy: Sleep

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy

  • Diphenhydramine (Unisom SleepGels®, Benadryl)

Type of Remedy: Yeast Infection

Safe Medications to Take During Pregnancy

  • Miconazole (Monistat®)

*Please note: No drug can be considered 100% safe to use during pregnancy.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy