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OTC Medications During Pregnancy: What to Consider or Avoid

OTC Medications During Pregnancy: What to Consider or Avoid

You’re pregnant, your allergies are acting up, and you wonder whether you can take your usual medications. Or, perhaps pregnancy-related heartburn is wreaking havoc on your ability to sleep — can you take an antacid?

The fact is that everything you put into your body, your unborn child absorbs, so you want to take over-the-counter (OTC) medications with care. This caution is warranted, as 10% of congenital disabilities are linked to medications taken during pregnancy.

To help you navigate OTC medications during your pregnancy, the team of women’s health experts here at Women’s Health Services presents the following.

Defining OTC medications

While the name may sound obvious, we want to underscore what we’re referring to when we say OTC medications. Up to 90% of women take medications during pregnancy and these medications are prescribed by doctors for a pre-existing health condition (or a developing one).

OTC medications are those that don’t require a prescription but, rather, medications that you can find on any pharmacy or grocery store aisle.

Navigating your health with OTC medications during pregnancy

During your prenatal appointments, we take the time to review your medications and your health issues, and we can advise you on which medications are safe and appropriate. In between appointments, however, you may want to take medication for pain or a cold and wonder whether it’s safe.

Whether you’re dealing with a cold or constipation, we’ve put together a list of OTC medications with a good safety record here.

This list is fairly comprehensive and covers most minor health issues that can crop up during pregnancy.

What medications to avoid during a pregnancy

It would be nearly impossible to list all of the medications you should avoid during pregnancy, but we want to highlight some more common ones. For example, you should avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as Advil® and Aleve®.

If you have stomach upset, avoid Pepto Bismol, which contains bismuth subsalicylate, and opt for one of the antacids on our list.

If you want to combat congestion, we suggest that you avoid decongestants that contain phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine during your first trimester.

If you’re wondering about a product that isn’t on our list of approved OTC medications, your best action is to call us.

Tips for taking OTC medications during pregnancy

There are a few good rules of thumb when it comes to taking OTC medications during pregnancy, such as:

This last point bears fleshing out a little. For example, if you’re struggling with heartburn, before you reach for an OTC medication, try a more natural approach first. This should include eating small meals, sleeping with your upper body slightly raised, and avoiding heartburn triggers, such as spicy foods.

As another example, if you’re struggling with congestion, perhaps try some steam with eucalyptus first. You can boil water, add some eucalyptus oil, and breathe the steam in through your nose to see if that doesn’t break up the congestion.

Or, if you find you have lower back pain later in your pregnancy, you can try hot and cold therapies (ice packs and heating pads) to see if that doesn’t remedy the problem before taking aspirin.

Of course, we’re not suggesting that you avoid all OTC medications — there are times when an OTC medication is the best avenue toward remedying your health issue.

If you have more questions about taking OTC medications during your pregnancy, please contact one of our two offices in Arlington, Texas. You can call us at 817-277-9415 or book an appointment online.

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