Medicines and Pregnancy

Patient Education Materials

Pregnancy and Childbirth

Medicines and Pregnancy


All medicines affect your body in some way. When you’re pregnant, you need to be extra careful about taking medicine. You shouldn’t take any type of medicine without first asking your doctor. Check with your doctor or nurse about any prescription or over-the-counter medicines as well as herbal supplements.

What medicines can I take?

Many pregnant women aren’t sure what types of medicines are safe to take. Below are some recommended medicines for common discomforts, colds, and the flu.

  • For headaches, muscle aches, or mild pain, you may take 2 regular strength acetaminophen (ah-SEE-tah-min-oh-fen) tablets (325mg), like Tylenol, every 6 hours as needed.
  • For head congestion or stuffy nose, try saline nasal spray. You may take 2 squirts in each nostril every 6 hours. If you are more than 3 months pregnant, you may take 1 to 2 pseudoephedrine (sue-doe-eh-FEH-drin) tablets (30mg to 60mg), like Sudafed, every 6 hours as needed. Talk to your doctor about using Sudafed during the first 3 months of pregnancy. If your doctor says not to use Sudafed during the first 3 months, you may use diphenhydramine (die-fen-HI-dra-meen), like Benadryl. Take 1 to 2 Benadryl tablets (25mg to 50mg), every 6 hours as needed. Use Benadryl with caution. It may make you drowsy.
  • For a sore throat, gargle with warm salt water or mouthwash. Suck on cough drops or throat lozenges.
  • For a cough, you may take cough medicines with dextromethorphan (dex-tro-meth-ORfan) and guaifenesin (gwy-FEN-ih-sin), like Robitussin DM, as directed.
  • For seasonal allergies or hay fever, which may include watery eyes and a runny nose, you may take Benadryl (25mg to 50 mg), every 6 hours as needed. Use caution when taking Benadryl. It may make you drowsy.
  • For heartburn or indigestion, try taking an antacid such as Tums, Rolaids, Maalox, or Mylanta as directed.
  • For dental procedures, you may have a local anesthetic without epinephrine (epeh-NEF-rin). You may take Tylenol for pain relief.
  • Most antibiotics and mild narcotic pain medicines are safe, but talk to your doctor first. Avoid tetracycline (teh-tra-SYE-kleen), doxycycline (dock-sih-SYE-kleen), and ciprofloxacin (sip-row-FLOX-ah-sin). Do not take cotrimoxazole (ko-try-MOX-ahzol) (Bactrim) during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

When you have a cold or the flu

Colds and the flu are viruses that can be spread easily to others. Symptoms usually will improve on their own after a few days. There is no cure for colds or the flu. Antibiotics do not cure them. Taking the medicines listed on this sheet for pain, cough, and sore throat may help you feel better until the virus is gone.

When you are pregnant and have a cold or the flu, follow these suggestions:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Get as much rest or sleep as possible.
  • Use paper tissues, instead of handkerchiefs. Throw the tissues away in a trash basket.
  • To help loosen congestion, drink plenty of fluids. You should drink hot decaf drinks or juices with vitamin C, like orange, cranberry, grape, grapefruit, apple, and pineapple.
  • Avoid having too many dairy products, like milk. These can thicken mucus secretions.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Chills and fever (temperature above 101 F)
  • Trouble keeping down liquids or food for more than 24 hours
  • Constant sore throat or severe problems swallowing
  • Severe and constant headache not relieved by Tylenol
  • Coughing up thick, greenish-yellow mucus
  • Wheezing, difficulty breathing, or chest pain