Doctors usually tell women to avoid medicines during pregnancy, if
possible, especially during the first 3 months. That is when a baby's organs
form. But sometimes you have to take medicine to treat a health problem, such
high blood pressure or
Before prescribing any medicine, your doctor or nurse-midwife will
look at whether the risk of taking medicine is higher than the risk of not
treating your illness. If you or your baby would face worse problems without
treatment, then your doctor or nurse-midwife will prescribe medicine or
over-the-counter one. He or she will also look at
which medicine to give you. For example, some
antibiotics are safe for pregnant women, and some are
What medicines can you take during pregnancy?
It can be hard to know if a medicine is safe for your baby. Most
medicines are not studied in pregnant women, because researchers worry about
how the medicines might affect the baby. But some medicines have been taken for
so long by so many women that doctors have a good idea of how safe they
In general, doctors say it is usually safe to take:
Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for fever and
If you are planning a pregnancy, talk to your doctor or
nurse-midwife about any medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter
ones. Some of them may be safe during pregnancy. But others may not be safe.
Your doctor or nurse-midwife may have you stop taking a medicine or may switch
you to another one. Some medicines that aren't safe in the first trimester may
be safe to use later in the pregnancy.
What medicines should you avoid during pregnancy?
Some medicines are known to increase the chance of birth defects
or other problems. But sometimes, stopping a medicine (such as one that
controls seizures) has greater risk to the mother and the baby than continuing
to take the medicine. Talk to your doctor about any medicines you take if you
are thinking about having a baby or if you have just found out that you are
Among the medicines that increase the chances of birth defects
acne medicine isotretinoin (such as Amnesteem and Claravis). This medicine
is very likely to cause birth defects. It should not be
taken by women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant.
inhibitors, such as benazepril and lisinopril, which lower blood pressure.
Some medicines to control
seizures, such as valproic acid.
Some antibiotics, such as doxycycline and tetracycline.
Methotrexate, which is sometimes used to treat arthritis.
Warfarin (such as Coumadin), which helps prevent blood
Alprazolam (such as Xanax),
diazepam (such as Valium), and some other medicines used to treat
Paroxetine (such as Paxil), which is used to treat
depression and other conditions.
Over-the-counter pain medicines
like aspirin and ibuprofen (such as Advil and Motrin) and naproxen (such as
Aleve). The risk of birth defects with these medicines is very low. Most
problems occur if these medicines are taken regularly at the end of
Is it okay to take herbal supplements and vitamins?
Talk to your doctor or nurse-midwife about any herbal supplements
that you have been taking. Don't take any vitamins or herbal or other supplements
unless you talk with your doctor or nurse-midwife first.
Women who are trying to get pregnant and those who are pregnant
should take a multivitamin that has folic acid. Folic acid is especially important prior to and in the
first few weeks of pregnancy, because it prevents some birth defects. You can
get folic acid in an over-the-counter multivitamin or in a multivitamin that
your doctor or nurse-midwife prescribes. Talk to your doctor or nurse-midwife
about which type of vitamin you should take. In some cases, doctors and
nurse-midwives prescribe extra iron or extra folic acid.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.