Safe for Pregnancy

Not sure what over-the-counter medications are safe to take while pregnant? Dr. Neetus K. Sodhi at Bloom Obstetrics and Gynecology provides a list of pregnancy-friendly medications to use throughout pregnancy. She serves women in Tarzana, CA, the San Fernando Valley, and the greater Los Angeles area.

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Safe for Pregnancy

The Common Cold

No over-the-counter (OTC) medicine will help the cold “go away,” instead most OTC treatments just relieve symptoms associated with the cold. Therefore, any at-home remedies designed to make you feel comfortable serve the same purpose, but likely carry less risks than certain medications.

Some examples of home remedies to alleviate symptoms of the common cold include:

  • chicken noodle soup or stew
  • broth/spicy broth
  • ginger
  • hot shower
  • steam with peppermint
  • nasal saline spray
  • replenishing fluids and electrolytes
  • vaporizer or vapor rub
  • hot/cold packs for body aches
  • Neti pot

Over the counter medications used to treat symptoms of a cold that are safe for pregnancy are:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)
  • Loratadine (Claritin)
  • Zinc lozenges
  • Chloraseptic spray (but a salt water gargle may be just as effective)

It is also recommended that you avoid sweets (except fruit), dairy, and caffeine until you recover.


Oral antihistamines for allergy are generally safe for use during pregnancy. These include:

  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec, Aller-Tec)
  • Chlorpheniramine
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Banophen)
  • Fexofenadine (Allegra, Aller-Fex)
  • Loratadine (Claritin)

Overall, there is a positive outcome on birth weight and a decrease in preterm labor with the use of antihistamines for allergy, asthma, and nausea.

Acid Reflux

Some natural remedies are Ginger, fennel, or peppermint tea. You may also try natural bitters for morning sickness and acid reflux. Dr. Sodhi’s favorite over the counter remedy for acid reflux is Pepcid Complete.

For additional tips on how to deal with heartburn and acid reflux during pregnancy, attend one of our workshops!

Hemorrhoids & Constipation

The best non-medicated way to avoid hemorrhoids is to prevent constipation. If you are frequently constipated make sure you are drinking enough fluids daily. Make sure to get the required daily intake of 25 to 30 g of fiber. Do not drink water all at once, rather sip slowly throughout the day.

Other dietary precautions & recommendations:

  • Avoid lemon and lemon oil in tea or other foods
  • Eat enough a good portion of insoluble fiber
  • Avoid processed starches, such as cookies and other pastries
  • Drink Prune juice
  • Take magnesium
  • Bulking laxatives are generally safer than stimulatory laxatives
  • Exercise daily (if not contraindicated)

Over-the-counter remedies for Hemorrhoids:

  • Preparation H, Anusol, Tucks
  • Witch hazel wipes
  • Sitz bath

Over-the-counter remedies for Constipation:

  • Psyllium (Metamucil)
  • Polycarbophil (Equalactin, Fiber-Lax, FiberNorm, Konsyl, Mitrolan)
  • Methylcellulose (Citrucel, UniFiber)
  • Other laxatives and stool softeners (Colace, Dulcolax, Maltsupex, Move It Along!, milk of magnesia)

Headache & Migraine

Headaches are common, especially in early pregnancy. Causes of headaches include stress, poor sleep, dehydration, and change in caffeine intake. Dr. Sodhi recommends taking actions to mitigate these cause factors. If the headaches persist, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the go-to pain reliever during pregnancy.

*Pregnant women are advised NOT TO TAKE ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) during pregnancy*.


Diarrhea and other digestive issues are quite common in pregnancy due to the hormonal shifts, dietary changes, and added stress. For prolonged diarrhea, severe diarrhea, or bloody diarrhea, contact Dr. Sodhi right away; these can signal more serious problems and put you at risk for dehydration.

For symptom management for mild diarrhea or loose stools, there are multiple at-home remedies as well as over-the-counter medications available:

  • Drink clear-soup broths to stay hydrated and keep electrolytes balanced
  • Try adding more starchy foods to your diet, such as bananas or rice, to slow emptying
  • Avoid high-fat foods, spicy foods, fried foods
  • Avoid gas-producing foods, such as cabbage, beans, and other high-fiber meals temporarily

Loperamide (Imodium, Kaopectate II, Maalox Total Relief, Pepto Diarrhea Control) is a safe OTC medication to treat diarrhea in pregnancy.