Medication During Pregnancy: What Can I Take?

Key Points

  1. Some medications are generally safe during pregnancy, it's crucial to consult your obstetrician or midwife
  2. Paracetamol is the preferred pain relief throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding
  3. NSAIDs like Ibuprofen are not recommended in the first trimester
  4. Specific anti-histamines like Polaramine and Claratyne have trimester-specific considerations

What Medications Can You Take During Your Pregnancy

Some medications are safe to take during pregnancy however many are not. Here is a quick guide to what is and isn't "generally" safe to take, however it's always best to check with your own obstetrician or midwife before taking any medication.

Paracetamol (e.g. Panadol, Tylenol)

Paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen) is the first choice for pain relief medication during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is safe to take throughout ALL stages of pregnancy.

NSAIDS (e.g. Ibuprofen, low-dose Aspirin, Voltaren)

NSAIDS are not recommended during the first trimester. Second trimester is safe for occasional use, no more than 48 hours. Avoid during third trimester.

Opioids (e.g. Codeine)

Minimal use is safe. Given that Opioid’s are addictive, emphasis is on MINIMAL use. Persistent use can cause maternal dependence, which leads to withdrawal in the neonate.

Anti-Histamines (e.g. Dristan, Claratyne)

Safe nasal sprays to treat hay fever during all trimesters of pregnancy are Dristan nasal decongestant and Fess saline nasal spray. Safe anti-histamine medication through all trimesters is Polaramine, although this is a sedating anti-histamine, so best to take this at night. Claratyne is safe to use during the second and third trimester, however should be avoided in the first.

The general rule of thumb is that any medication taken during pregnancy should be taken at the LOWEST effective dose and for the SHORTEST duration.

safety in pregnancy guide

About the Author:

Written for Nourish Baby by Dr Grant Saffer

Dr Grant Saffer is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist consulting at the Epworth-Freemasons in East Melbourne. Grant specialises in complicated and high-risk pregnancies and ensures his patients are always given an exception level of care. Grant keeps his patients up-to-date with relevant information about their condition which enables them to make informed decisions about their pregnancy and delivery, taking into consideration their beliefs and therapeutic preferences.

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