What medicines are safe to take during pregnancy?
It’s important to know which medicines are safe and which are best avoided
As wonderful as it is feeling your baby growing inside you, pregnancy can play havoc with your body. And like everyone, you can get ill from a rotten cold, or infection or virus going around, but knowing what you can and can’t take to help in pregnancy, can see you suffering in silence.
If you’re nursing a throbbing headache or fighting an infection, there are medicines you can take to ease the symptoms or to get you better.
Here’s a quick guide to what’s safe and what’s best to avoid.
Can I take common medicines when I’m pregnant?
Many medicines are safe, including paracetamol, and prescription medication to treat long-term conditions such as asthma, overactive thyroid, underactive thyroid and diabetes. But some medicines, including some common painkillers, can harm your baby's health. So to be sure a medicine is safe in pregnancy, you need to get advice first:
- Check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist
- Always make sure your doctor, dentist or any other healthcare professional knows you’re pregnant before they prescribe anything or give you treatment
- Talk to your doctor if you take regular medication - ideally before you start trying for a baby or as soon as you find out you are pregnant
- If you’re taking medication for a mental health problem, do not stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor or midwife as this can make your illness get worse or return. Your midwife should support you with a care plan and may refer you to your local perinatal mental health team
- Only use over-the-counter medicine when you really need it
- Coughs and colds can be treated with paracetamol and simple linctus liquid, but it is important to avoid any products containing aspirin or ibuprofen in pregnancy.
Safe medicines in pregnancy
Medicines and treatments that are usually safe in pregnancy include:
- Most antibiotics
- Dental treatments, including local anaesthetics
- Some types of vaccinations, including tetanus and flu
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
But it’s always safer to check with your midwife, doctor or pharmacist before taking anything. You can keep a careful eye on what you’re taking and take pills on time with this handy pill reminder tool.
Natural remedies in pregnancy
Aromatherapy, herbal and homeopathic remedies can be very helpful during pregnancy, but do your research first - many natural remedies could be harmful so you need to choose carefully.