Article Updated on June 5, 2018

In the best of worlds, a pregnant woman will never take medication during her pregnancy. However, since we know that future mothers often have discomfort associated with pregnancy and that her system is at risk for infection during the last trimester, many mothers will have to take medication during pregnancy to care for specific symptoms.

That said, medication isn’t the first choice. Many things can help without having to take pharmaceutical products. For example, you can improve or adapt your diet and lifestyle habits, exercise, relax using meditation, prenatal yoga, or using acupuncture or osteopathy.

It’s important to listen to your body and use non-medication solutions first…

I know that many pregnant women prefer not taking medication, even if they feel ill, scared they will have an impact on the baby. It’s important to listen to your body and use non-medication solutions first, but it’s sometimes necessary to treat future mothers to avoid complications or to ensure the situation doesn’t deteriorate.

I will only provide you with a summary range of authorised over-the-counter medications that don’t replace a medical visit when necessary. Before prescriptions for a medication, the doctor should consider the gestational age and check the possible effects on the fetus using the right information sources and applying basic pharmacological principles.

The most important period for medical impacts on the baby’s formation is from the 14th-day post-conception to the 9th week of pregnancy. Medication can’t destroy an organ that is already normally developed, but it can influence and modify normal embryonic or fetal development (teratogenic effect).

From the get-go, you can take Tylenol as needed. The same thing for Myloflex (muscular contractures), Balminil DM and Benylin DM (colds) as well as Otrivin and Dristan (nasal congestion). You can also take Tums, Maalox and Gaviscon for gastric reflux, and deal with seasonal allergies with Claritin, Aerius, Reactine and Allegra.

Avoid taking complete, complex or combined formulas. You have to treat the more severe symptoms. Is it congestion? A cough? Treat one symptom at a time.

In case of vaginitis (fungal infection), Canestan, Monistat and Gynecure are suggested, ideally for a one-week treatment. To treat hemorrhoids, Tucks and Anusol cream are good choices. In the case of dirrahea, both Imodium and Kaopectate are good. If you’re constipated, you should eat and drink well as it can solve the problem. If not, add Metamucil, Prodiem, Benefibre, Colace or Surfak, which all should help within a couple of days. If you’re severely constipated for more than three days, you can use a glycerine suppository.

In short, the range of authorised medications is rather wide for normal discomforts. However, remember that if your symptoms become serious despite your efforts, you should always consult your doctor.

For more information about medications permitted during pregnancy, and to discover or rediscover those allowed during breastfeeding, please read my articles about flu and pregnancy, acupuncture and pregnancy, iron and pregnancy and medications and breastfeeding.

Don’t forget – if you’re a woman who takes medication before becoming pregnant, such as anxiolytics, antidepressants, antipsychotics, high blood pressure medications, diabetes or intestinal illnesses, you shouldn’t stop taking them before consulting your doctor. Older medications are often the safest, best known (more data) for a pregnant woman planning a pregnancy.

Here are a few principles for women who are treated for mood disorders (psychopharmacology):

  • During pre-conception, you should change the medication if possible, if it can harm a future pregnancy.
  • Ensure three months of stability for the woman being treated before becoming pregnant.
  • Always opt for a molecule that is better known and safer for the future pregnancy and baby.
  • Look for monotherapy (one medication at a time) rather than polytherapy to reduce the exposure to the baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Don’t forget that THC (cannabis) is also a polytherapy, which should always be verified with the woman during pre-conception.
  • Always try to take the smallest effective dose to diminish possible sedative effects.
  • Promote interdisciplinary work with the family to ensure close support and monitoring.
  • For medication and breastfeeding, you have to re-evaluate everything because a baby under two months is more vulnerable and weaker, and because they’re slower to eliminate the medication, there’s a risk of possible accumulation.

Please watch the following videos for more information:

You can also consult this website to ask a pharmacist a question: Question for a Pharmacist.

Thanks, and talk soon!

The Baby Expert