There are many over-the-counter medications you can take while pregnant


Congestion, colds and coughs are not fun. They can be even more painful if you’re pregnant. Here are some safe ways to get better quickly.

Unfortunately, mucinex during pregnancy can bring about discomforts, pains, and aches. Before you rush to get that over-the-counter medication, make sure you understand which medications are safe for pregnancy.

While many over-the-counter drugs are safe for use during pregnancy, there are some that could cause problems for baby. Before you take any prescription, over-the counter or herbal/homeopathic medication, consult your doctor. Also, make sure to follow all instructions on the packaging.

Be aware that some symptoms that you might not notice in normal circumstances (e.g. a headache) could be signs of a more serious pregnancy related problem. Before you take any over-the counter medication, make sure to check your other medications. Even medication that is considered safe during pregnancy can be dangerous if they are combined with other medications. Always check with your ob/gyn if you are unsure.

These are common problems that can occur during pregnancy. We also have a list of similar medicines that may be safe and those that might not.

Aches and Pains

Acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol, is safe to be taken for general pain relief and headaches. Avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen and Motrin (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen and Aleve (Aleve). OTC drugs can be linked to congenital heart defects if taken in the first trimester. When used in the third trimester, they have been associated with other heart abnormalities and low levels of amniotic liquid.

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Congestion and allergy symptoms

Antihistamines like diphenhydramine, Benadryl, and loratidine, (Claritin), are safe for congestion problems. Avoid pseudoephedrine, also known as Sudafed, because it can cause birth defects in the baby’s abdominal walls. Decongestants such as phenylephrine can affect blood flow to your placenta, so they should be avoided during pregnancy.


Two major cough medication ingredients–dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant) and guaifenesin (an expectorant, which means it loosens up thick mucus)–both appear to be safe during pregnancy, although both have been tested in relatively few studies.


Metamucil, as well as stool softeners such Colace, can be used to ease constipation. Retal suppositories, laxatives, and mineral oils may stimulate labor. Talk with your doctor before using these products.


Mylanta and Tums are safe for pregnant women. They also significantly reduce heartburn symptoms. Talk to your doctor if antacids don’t suffice. Famotidine (Pepcid) crosses the placenta, but is not associated with any pregnancy complications. Although ranitidine (Zantac), was previously considered safe for pregnancy, the FDA found low levels of a cancer-causing agent in drug samples in 2019. Manufacturers have voluntarily removed the drugs.

There are some situations when the potential benefits of taking medication outweigh any risks to baby. Talking to your doctor is the best advice for medication.

Ashley Roman, MD is an ob/gyn and maternal/fetal health specialist at NYU Langone in New York City. Tulane University gave her her medical degree in 1998. She has been included in “Best Doctors in America” since 2007.


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