We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Should I Know About OTC Medications and Pregnancy?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Feb 05, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The issue of over the counter, or OTC, medications and pregnancy is a challenging one. According to research by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) one of the problems with determining safety and effectiveness of medications during pregnancy or when women breastfeed their children, is that these groups are routinely not tested in studies conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Most studies on OTC medications and pregnancy are inferred from tests on pregnant animals or arise as a result of women using OTC meds and then having problems. The first method is not always the best predictor for human reactions. The second means that if problems with OTC medications and pregnancy arise, the only help is usually to remove the drug from the safe list, which may not mitigate damage to children whose mothers used a formerly “safe” medication while pregnant.

Despite that, there are many women who will need to take a medication during pregnancy, and what must be weighed first, is whether the need for the medication outweighs any potential risk, and also if the medication falls into what is considered a low-risk category. It should be observed that medications determined low-risk can change, and it’s always a good idea to ask your doctor to approve any OTC medications you might take. Studies can change current lists; you only need to look as far as medications like Tylenol® (acetaminophen) to see that warnings about the drug have extended to include being sure people take no more than the recommended dose because of the potential for liver damage.

A short list of OTC medications that are generally accepted as safe during pregnancy would include the following meds:

  • Most chewable antacids like Maalox, Rolaids and Tums
  • Simethicone, in medications like Gas-X
  • Cough medicines that contain dextromethorphan or guaifenesin, or both, but not alcohol, pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine
  • Acetaminophen
  • Fiber supplements like psyllium husk and methylcellulose
  • Antihistamines like loratadine, diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine
  • Topical antibiotics for small cuts

An important thing to remember with OTC medications and pregnancy is to read labels carefully. Read for contraindications against taking the medication if you are pregnant. Similar to the safe list applicable for OTC medications and pregnancy is the list of drugs you absolutely should avoid unless these medications are doctor recommended and they pose some benefit worthy of the risk. For instance, you should avoid any medications that contain alcohol, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, pseudoephedrine, and phenylephrine. Essentially, if you read an ingredient on an OTC drug that is not on your “low risk” list, ask your doctor before taking this medication.

You should also be aware that most herbal preparations, medications and tinctures are contraindicated during pregnancy. Speak to your doctor if you plan to take any herbs, and ask him or her for information regarding their safety. Most herbs you would eat in food are likely safe in small doses, but highly concentrated amounts of them may occur in herbal preparations, which may not be safe. Treat an herbal preparation as you would an OTC medication and get medical advice before using it.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.