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Medicines During Pregnancy

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Medicines you can take during pregnancy

It can be hard to know if a medicine is safe for your baby. Most medicines are not studied in pregnant women. That's because researchers worry about how the medicines might affect the baby. But some medicines have been taken for so long by so many women that doctors have a good idea of how safe they are.

In general, doctors say it is usually safe to take the following.

Prescription medicines
  • Some medicines for high blood pressure
  • Most medicines for asthma
  • Some medicines for depression
  • Penicillin and some other antibiotics
  • Medicines for HIV
Over-the-counter medicines
  • Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for fever and pain
  • Some allergy medicines, including loratadine (such as Alavert and Claritin) and diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl)
  • Some over-the-counter cold medicines

Talk to your doctor or midwife about any medicines you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements.

Deciding about medicines during pregnancy

Doctors usually tell women to avoid medicines during pregnancy, if possible, especially during the first 3 months. That is when a baby's organs form.

But what if you take medicine for a health problem, such as high blood pressure or asthma? Your doctor or midwife will look at the risks. A medicine may have risks, but not treating your illness could be risky too. If you or your baby would face worse problems without treatment, then your doctor or midwife may keep you on your current medicine or switch you to another one. Some medicines that aren't safe in the first trimester may be safe to use later in the pregnancy.

Medicines you need to avoid during pregnancy

Some medicines are known to increase the chance of birth defects or other problems. But sometimes there's more risk for the mother and the baby if the mother stops taking a medicine (such as one that controls seizures) than if the mother keeps taking it. You can work with your doctor or midwife to make the safest medicine choices.

Some medicines that increase the risk of birth defects are:

Folic acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin. Taking it before and during early pregnancy reduces the risk that your baby will have a neural tube defect or other birth defects.

You may need even more folic acid if you have a family history of neural tube defects, had a baby with this defect, or take medicines for seizures. Experts recommend 4 mg (4000 mcg) of folic acid a day.

If you need extra folic acid, work with your doctor. Don't try to do it on your own by taking more multivitamins. You could get too much of the other substances that are in the multivitamin.

Credits for Medicines During Pregnancy

Current as of: February 23, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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