Over the Counter Medications During Pregnancy: Your Ultimate Guide to the Safest Drugs

*Always consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking medications during pregnancy.

The BEST medication is NO medication during pregnancy because all drugs carry some risk during pregnancy.
That's why I've included non-drug therapies wherever possible in this guide.

But I've been pregnant four times, so I totally understand that nine months is a loooong time and you may need to reach for the medicine cabinet once in awhile. I also know that you only want to take the safest medication possible, right?

So here you go, Mama! Enjoy this guide to the safest over- the-counter medications for pregnancy .

free downloadable guide to safe medications for pregnancy, written by a nurse.

Cough and Cold During Pregnancy

Ugh. A cough and cold when you're pregnant is hard to deal with! I mean, you're already pregnant so you don't need any other reasons to lose sleep. And those muscles in your back and stomach are already under pressure thanks to your growing uterus without the added strain of cough, cough, coughing.

If your symptoms are minor and you're just looking for some drug-free solutions to the common cold, there are some things you can do:


-Adding extra fluids to your daily intake
-Using a Neti-Pot or saline nasal rinse
-Using saline nasal spray
-Gargling with salt water
-Sucking on hard candies for a cough
-Drinking herbal tea with honey


Saline Nasal Spray (Salinex) 1 Spray, 3-4 Times a Day

If that's not working, there are some medications that you can buy over the counter from your local pharmacy.


Xylometazoline (Otrivin) 2 - 3 Sprays, 3 Times a Day, for 3 Days
Oxymetazoline (Dristan) 2 - 3 Sprays, 2 Times a Day, for 3 Days

Otrivin and Dristan should only be used for a few days,so you can avoid rebound congestion.

Rebound congestion is a constant stuffy nose from using a nasal spray, gel or drops that contain medicine to treat your congestion. That's right- the medicine that takes away your sniffles can also make them worse!

How do you avoid rebound congestion?

Don't use these drugs for more than three days. If you're still congested, see your doctor.


Like I said, there's nothing worse than hacking up a lung when your body is already busy baking a baby. So, check out some easy things to try before you reach for the medicine cabinet.



-Water is a natural expectorant- which means it helps thin
out the mucous- so drink LOTS of it!

-Sucking on hard candies
-Using a humidifier
-Placing a pillow or wedge under the head of your mattress at night so you're not laying flat
-Neti Pot or saline nasal rinse twice a day

Dextromethorphan Cough Syrup (Benyl in DM) 1-2 teaspoons every 4-6 hours

Read the labels when you're shopping for cough/throat lozenges: avoid products with Menthol and Alcohol. There's no evidence on the effects of menthol on your unborn baby and alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy.

If you're unsure, talk to the pharmacist!


some drugs are safe to take during pregnancy and some should be avoided. This is a free downloadable guide to medications while you're expecting


Allergies During Pregnancy

If you suffer from chronic seasonal allergies you've probably already talked to your doctor about what your drug options are. Allergies can make you miserable. But the good news is that you don't have to suffer for the entire nine months!

Being stuffed up while you're growing your bump is a pretty common side-effect of pregnancy. So if you're not sure whether it's the ragweed or the bun in your over, talk to your doctor.




-Using a Neti Pot
-Using a saline nasal rinse
-Eating local honey, 1 tablespoon a day



Antihistamines for allergy symptoms (runny nose, itchy
watery eyes:
Chlorphenaramine (Chlor-Tripolon) 4mg, every 4-6 hours
(Maximum 24 mg/day)
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl ) 25mg, every 4-6 hours
(Maximum 250mg/day)



Loratadine (Claritin) 10mg daily
Cetirizine (Reactine)  5 - 10mg daily



Diphenhydramine (Benadryl ) 25mg, every 4-6 hours
(Maximum 250mg/day)


Pain and Fever During Pregnancy


I mean, obviously you're expecting a few aches and pains while you're growing a human in your body, right? If you overdo it one day, you can try some non-medicinal ways to take the pain away!



-Using ice and heat therapy
-Using a TENS machine (Dr. Ho's) (Excellent for muscle strain,
sore tired feet and legs, tension headaches, backaches)
-Getting massage therapy (do NOT have your feet massaged- it can induce labour early)
-Taking a warm bath in Epsom salts


Acetaminophen (Tylenol ) 325 - 500mg, every 4-6 hours
(Maximum 4g per day)
Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) 200-400mg, every 6-8 hours
(Maximum 2.4 - 3.2g per day) ONLY if you're between 12-32 weeks of pregnancy.

THINGS TO CONSIDER:  Medicated creams that you rub onto your skin are considered medications. First of all, your skin is your largest organ so anything you put on it will quickly be absorbed. And secondly, once it's absorbed it goes straight into your blood stream.

For example: Voltaren cream contains NSAIDS and if you're less than 12 weeks pregnant or more than 32 weeks pregnant, you can't take it.



Acetaminophen (Tylenol ) 325 - 500mg, every 4-6 hours
(Maximum 4g per day)
Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) 200-400mg, every 6-8 hours
(Maximum 2.4 - 3.2g per day) - ONLY if you're between 12-32 weeks of pregnancy.

*When you have a fever, It's important to drink lots of clear fluids.

recommendations for ibuprofen use during pregnancy

Did You Know?




Acetaminophen is considered safe to your throughout pregnancy and is the drug of choice for fever and pain.

Asprin should be avoided in late pregnancy. Women should avoid NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) around conception and in the first trimester of pregnancy as well as after 32 weeks.


Advil, Motrin, Aleve.


Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy

Morning sickness is a pretty common thing during pregnancy, In fact, about 80 percent of women will feel nauseous in the first trimester. Of those, only about 65 percent will actually puke.

If you can, try using some of the natural methods below to deal with the symptoms of morning sickness (which can last all day, btw!)

Morning sickness usually subsides in the second trimester, so you can look forward to that.

If you have severe vomitting that doesn't subside, see your doctor. You may have a less common condition called, Hyperemesis Gravidarum. It would require a stronger medication and possibly intravenous therapy.



-Eating smal ler meals more frequently
-Eating saltines at the side of your bed- eat them before you
stand up
-Try ginger! Cook with ginger, drink ginger tea, drink
flattened, diluted ginger ale, eat ginger snap cookies
-Rest often
-Avoid strong odours
-Try acupuncture or acupressure



Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine) 10-25mg, 3-4 times per day
Dimenhydrinate 25mg (Gravol ) 50-100mg, every 4-6 hours
(Maximum 400mg per day)


For Prolonged Symptoms:
Diclectin (prescription only- see your doctor) is safe and
effective for the treatment of nausea and vomiting during

a nurse's guide to medications that are safe to take during pregnancy for the colds, allergies, headaches and more

Heartburn During Pregnancy

If you've been feeling the burn in your stomach and chest, you may be experiencing heartburn. A lot of younger, healthy women have never felt the discomfort of heartburn and they're surprised at how uncomfortable it is.

Unfortunately it's the hormones of pregnancy and the growing weight of the baby that causes it, not a baby with a full head of hair!


-Eating smaller meals more often and cut back on caffeine

-Not eating 3 hours before bedtime
-Not consuming large amounts of water after dinner
-Avoiding spicy, acidic ( tomato, oranges ) and fatty foods
-Drinking 1 -2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar
diluted in a half cup of water as soon as you feel signs of
hear tburn ( instant relief! )


-Magnesium-aluminum hydroxide antacids (Maalox, Mylanta)
-Calcium Carbonate (TUMS)
-H2-blockers (Zantac, Pepcid)
-Alignates (Gaviscon)

(RELATED: 5 Reasons to Exercise During Pregnancy and the Best Ways to do it.)

(RELATED: Everything You Wanted to Know About Coffee and Breastfeeding)


Constipation During Pregnancy

There's nothing worse than not being able to poop, or having to strain. ( Don't do it- it's not worth the varicose veins in your legs AND vulva. )

The hormones of pregnancy relax all of your smooth muscles and your bowels may get really slow.

If you notice that your bowels seem to be on strike, start by making some lifestyle changes!


-Eating more fibre! Find ways to eat more bran, nuts, dates,
fruits and veggies.
-Drink prune juice 3 times daily
-Drinking more water (try to aim for 1 litre for every 50
pounds that you weigh)
-Walking for 20-30 minutes most days of the week
-Using a squatty-potty stool to make bowel movements



Bulk forming fiber (Metamucil , Podium) every day


Try Laxatives:
Lactulose 15-30mls,1-2 times/day

Vaginal Infection and UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) During Pregnancy

If you suspect that you have a vaginal or bladder infection, see your doctor right away. Don't mess around with cranberry juice or capsules- a UTI can actually cause premature labour.

While all of the drugs in this guide are safe for use during pregnancy, your doctor knows your health history and pregnancy best. Your pharmacist is a wonderful source of information too.

These are the professionals who know the details of your pregnancy best, so don' t hesitate to reach out to them if you have questions.

Wondering what else you need to know before your baby is born? Check out this viral post with free downloads for the hospital!

Five Things First-Time Moms Wished They'd Known Before Giving Birth

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Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup

Hey there, I’m Joanne.

I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!

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