Taking Medicine During Pregnancy

There may come a time during your pregnancy when you’re feeling under the weather and aren’t sure if you can take your regular over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Some medications are safe to take during pregnancy. But others are not, or their effects on your baby may not be known.

When you meet with your doctor to confirm you’re pregnant, ask what meds are OK to take and what meds you need to find alternatives for. Your healthcare provider will weigh the risks and benefits to help you know what’s safe.

Also, tell your doctor about any alternative medicines or supplements you take, even if the label says “natural.” And if you get any new prescriptions while you’re pregnant, make sure the people who prescribe them know that you’re pregnant.

What Medications Are Safe to Take During Pregnancy?

Prenatal vitamins are safe and important to take when you’re pregnant. Ask your healthcare provider about the safety of taking other vitamins, herbal remedies, and supplements. Most herbal preparations and supplements have not been proven to be safe during pregnancy. Generally, you should not take any OTC medication while pregnant unless it is necessary.

Abusing Prescription Drugs During Pregnancy

Any woman who becomes pregnant needs to evaluate her lifestyle and, if necessary, make changes to protect the health of her baby. If you have a problem with dependence on or with abuse of prescription drugs, it is important that you seek help not only for the sake of your own health but also for the health of your baby.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs:


These drugs are prescribed to treat pain and are sometimes used as a pre-anesthetic sedative. Common names include morphine, codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin), meperidine (Demerol) and oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet).

CNS Depressants:

These drugs are prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. CNS depressants are divided into two categories, barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Common prescription names include mephobarbital (Mebaral), pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal), alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Activan) and chlordiazepoxide HCI (Librium).


These drugs are prescribed to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Common prescription names include dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine or Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin).

How Can Prescription Drugs Harm My Baby?

Everything that a pregnant woman ingests has the potential to affect her baby in either a positive or negative way. Oxygen and nutrients that are positive reach the fetus by crossing the placenta.

Any drugs taken by a pregnant woman will also cross the placenta to reach her baby. The effects of any drug on the developing fetus are largely dependent upon the stage of a woman’s pregnancy.

Pregnancy Medication Resources:

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