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What Medications Are Not Safe To Take During Pregnancy?

What Medications Are Not Safe To Take During Pregnancy?

Soon-to-be mothers may be unaware of which drugs and medications are not safe to take while pregnant. Certain drugs may affect the fetus developing inside the womb, which could hurt both the mother and the child. What medications are not safe to take during pregnancy?

The effects of particular medications could delay the development of the fetus. It could also cause defects and disabilities once the child is born, as well as induce miscarriages. So how does one prevent this?

Inform your doctor

One of the most important things to remember when pregnant is to provide your midwife or doctor with a list of the medicines you are currently required to take. This may include medications you have recently taken. These can be over-the-counter or prescribed medicines, as well as nutritional supplements.

This includes medicine you take orally and those you apply and intake through different parts of the body. That means even therapeutic treatment is included. Some medications are not safe to take during pregnancy as these can have adverse effects on a pregnant woman’s health, including her child.

Your doctor can advise you on what medications are not safe to take during pregnancy.

You must also inform the professional if you’ve ever been a smoker, drank alcohol, or have taken illegal drugs. These could have been in the past or recently, consumed socially or often. Whatever the case may be, the best thing to do is keep your doctor up to date.

What medications are not safe to take during pregnancy?

Plenty of drugs can severely affect the way a fetus develops in the womb. It can also affect the way a pregnant woman’s body grows throughout the pregnancy, affecting her physical health, and how she lactates.

What medicines does a pregnant woman have to avoid?

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which is used for high blood pressure
  • Angiotensin II antagonists, similar to ACE
  • Lithium
  • Vitamin A in heavy doses
  • Male hormones
  • Antibiotics
  • Anticonvulsant medication
  • Medication against cancer
  • Thyroid medication
  • Thalidomide
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES)

Drugs like cannabis, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin can heavily affect a pregnancy. These cause defects in the fetus, as well as premature birth.

Smoking, alcohol intake, as well as caffeine consumption, are also associated with adverse effects during pregnancies. It’s better to be wary and talk to your doctor about any concerns and complications that might be encountered.

What medicines are safe to take?

During pregnancy, women can still experience plenty of other medical conditions. These range from urinary tract infections to allergies and more. But which medications are pregnant women allowed to take?

  • Allergy remedies like Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec
  • Cold and flu medication such as Robitussin, Mucinex, Vicks Vapor Rub, cough drops, Tylenol, and salt gargles
  • Ointments such as Bacitracin and Neosporin
  • Tylenol for headaches
  • For heartburn, Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta, and Zantac

Key takeaway

It is important to consult with your doctor regarding any medications you are currently taking, and will take while pregnant.

If you were prescribed any medicine prior to pregnancy, your doctor or midwife should be able to explain to you the risks that may come with taking these, and how safe it would be to take them while you’re pregnant.

Each medicine has its own benefits and risks. Usually, a doctor can provide a recommended alternative or alter the number of doses you should take daily. This is because some medicines pose more risks when not taken.

What medications are not safe to take during pregnancy? Among these are ACE, lithium, thyroid medications. Illegal substances are also unsafe to take during pregnancy.

Learn more about Pregnancy Problems here.


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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Medicine Guidelines During Pregnancy, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/4396-medicine-guidelines-during-pregnancy

Accessed July 15, 2021

Pregnancy – medication, drugs and alcohol, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-medication-drugs-and-alcohol

Accessed July 15, 2021

Drug Use in Pregnancy; a Point to Ponder!, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2810038/

Accessed July 15, 2021

Treating for Two: Medicine and Pregnancy, https://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/meds/treatingfortwo/index.html

Accessed July 15, 2021

Medicines and breastfeeding, https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/medicines-and-breastfeeding

Accessed July 15, 2021


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Written by Kirsten Rocamora Updated Jul 20, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel