Getting sick while you’re pregnant is no walk in the park, especially if you’re in the later months of pregnancy. In addition to coping with the symptoms of pregnancy on top of the symptoms of an illness, you might face frustration as you head to the medicine cabinet to find some relief. If you regularly take certain medications, you’ve probably gotten the go-ahead from your doctor to continue during pregnancy. When you need immediate relief from seasonal or sudden illnesses, however, you might not be sure what’s safe to take and what could do harm to your baby. Generally, your best bet is to ask your doctor, but you can get an idea of what’s safe with the guide below.
For a headache
For headaches as well as everyday aches and pains, acetaminophen, or Tylenol, has been the go-to choice during pregnancy, because it does not carry the same risks to the fetus as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium in the third trimester. Recent research has indicated, however, that regular use of acetaminophen during pregnancy can increase the risk of ADHD in your child. Though more research is needed to confirm the connection, it may be beneficial to limit Tylenol use and seek alternative pain relieve measures such as rest and cold compresses.
For a flu or cold
Cold and flu season can be hard on expecting moms, but there are some medications you can take for relief. Many varieties of cough syrup are safe after the first trimester, and saline nasal drops and sprays can be used to relieve congestion. You might also gargle with salt water to relieve a cough or sore throat and reach for a comforting bowl of chicken soup to help you feel better. In addition, remember to get your flu shot, because it can keep both you and your child from getting sick.
Antihistamine allergy pills are largely safe during pregnancy, including Benadryl and Claritin. If you normally use steroidal nasal sprays for allergies, check with your doctor to make sure these are safe. Topical anti-itch creams and ointments can be used safely to cope with skin allergies and other irritations.
For stomach upset
It’s no secret that pregnancy can be hard on your stomach. Even after morning sickness has subsided, you may face more frequent constipation, diarrhea, and nausea. For nausea, natural remedies like ginger tea and bland foods may be your best bet. Diarrhea can be treated with Kaopectate or Imodium, which may be used for 24 hours only after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Constipation can be treated with supplemental fiber in the form of Metamucil or Citrucel, and milk of magnesia is also safe if a laxative is needed.
Heartburn is something else you might experience more often in pregnancy, especially in later months. Maalox, Mylanta, and TUMs are all safe during pregnancy, and you can also find relief by sitting upright instead of lying down after eating and also drinking extra water in small, frequent sips.
When you aren’t sure about a certain medication and you can’t reach your OBGYN for an opinion, MeMD can provide the guidance you need from real medical providers, available around the clock.