Frequently Asked Questions about Medications During Pregnancy answered by Los Angeles Obstetrician Dr. Thais Aliabadi
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Q: What medications are safe to take to relieve pain while pregnant?
During your first trimester, it’s generally best to avoid taking drugs to avoid any possible harm to your baby. If you are dealing with headaches or muscle soreness, you should rest and use a cold compress. However, if more relief is needed, it is safe to take acetaminophen (Tylenol) while pregnant. Acetaminophen can be dangerous when taken in excess, so be sure to carefully follow dosing instructions and contact your doctor if you have any questions.
While pregnant, you should avoid taking:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, e.g. ibuprofen (Motrin and Advil)
- Naproxen (Aleve)
Using narcotic painkillers (opioids such as codeine, oxycodone, and Vicodin) may increase the risk of complications during pregnancy, developmental delays, and neurological abnormalities, and could cause dependency in your baby. These drugs should be used only under the strict supervision of your health care provider.
Q: Can I take any medication to help with nausea and vomiting?
If you’re experiencing severe nausea and vomiting that is interrupting your daily life, and home remedies haven’t worked, talk to your doctor. There is a new Category A medication available to treat nausea called Diclegis that is safe for women to take while pregnant. Diclegis may cause drowsiness, so it is best to take it right before going to bed.
Q: What medications are safe to take for pregnancy heartburn?
Heartburn, or acid reflux, is a common experience for pregnant women. If you’ve made some dietary and lifestyle changes and are still suffering from heartburn, you may talk to your doctor about safe medications. Some antacids are safe during pregnancy, while others are not.
Safe to take as indicated:
- Antacids containing calcium carbonate
- H2 receptor agonists and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – prescription drugs to treat severe acid reflux
Avoid during the 3rd trimester:
- Antacids that contain magnesium – may affect muscular contractions during labor
- High-sodium antacids
- Antacids containing aluminum hydroxide or aluminum carbonate – may cause constipation
Q: What medications can I take to control allergies while pregnant?
Most allergy medications, including Claritin, are safe to take while pregnant. Avoid taking oral decongestants during the first trimester, as some evidence suggests they may increase the likelihood of birth defects.
Q: What can I take for constipation relief?
Combat constipation by drinking plenty of water, getting daily exercise, and eating a fiber-rich diet. You can supplement your diet with Metamucil and take a stool softener, like Colace.
The mild laxative milk of magnesia is considered safe during pregnancy, but you should generally avoid taking laxatives unless directed by your doctor, as their use could cause diarrhea. You should also avoid taking cod liver oil, as it may interfere with your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals.