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What Medications Are Safe To Take During Pregnancy?

Heartburn, headaches, aches and pains, diarrhea and nausea. You may wonder what’s safe to take when dealing with these conditions while pregnant. From Advil to Tums, Salina Baldwin, DO, Banner Health OBGYN, shares her recommendations for treating common conditions you may experience during pregnancy.

First, check with your doctor

“In pregnancy, a woman should always consult her physician before starting or stopping any medications,” Dr. Baldwin says. “Every patient and pregnancy are unique, so check with your physician first. He or she may have an approved medication list you can follow.”

If you are on a prescription for a pre-existing health issue, you’ll most likely need to continue taking them during your pregnancy. There are options for lowering dosages or switching medications, but your doctor will work with you on next steps.

Pain relief

For headaches and body aches, Dr. Baldwin says regular and extra-strength acetaminophen (Tylenol) are safe to take. Other pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen and naproxen, are discouraged because of their potential effects on the fetus. 


If you are feeling a little slow down below, you can blame the surge of the progesterone hormone for slowing your bowel movements – or even your growing uterus. 

Before reaching for over-the-counter drugs, Dr. Baldwin suggests upping your fiber intake and water. Exercise may also help. If problems persist, she says many doctors approve a bulk-fiber laxative, such as Metamucil or Fiberall. If you are still having issues and begin to develop hemorrhoids from straining, your doctor may recommend a stool softener or laxative.


You can also blame those raging progesterone hormones on that burning sensation in your chest, also known as heartburn. 

“You may be tempted to reach for Tums or Mylanta, instead try changing up your meals,” Dr. Baldwin says. “Try eating smaller and more frequent meals and steer clear of spicy foods. You may also want to elevate yourself during sleep.”

If you are still feeling the burn, over-the-counter medications like Tums and Maalox are safe to take.

Common cold

Few women get through their pregnancy without getting a cold – especially if you have school-aged little ones at home too. Rest, drink lots of fluids and use a saline nasal spray to help relieve congestion. While many meds, such as cough drops and Claritin, that can help treat the common cold are thought to be safe, Dr. Baldwin says to check with your doctor first.

“Some of these medications could affect any other underlying health issues in pregnant women, so check with your doctor before taking anything,” Dr. Baldwin says.

The flu

One of the first things you’ll be asked by your doctor is if you’ve had your flu vaccine. With a burdened immune system, getting the flu can hit you harder and more dangerously. However, Dr. Baldwin says if you have been exposed to the disease and haven’t been vaccinated, not to panic. 

“If you think you have been exposed, let your doctor know immediately so you can start Tamiflu,” she says. “Tamiflu is thought to be safe for pregnant women, but the risks of skipping are far greater as it can cause birth defects and pre-term labor.”

For other questions on medications, talk with your health care provider or a Banner Health specialist.

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