Which Medications Are Safe To Take During Pregnancy?


One of the many questions I get at London Doctors Clinics' London Doctors Pharmacy is which medicine is safe to take during pregnancy.

There are many factors to think about, such as the nature of the medicine, the ailment that is being treated, other medicines that are being taken and the trimester. The reason why finding out if a medicine is suitable to take during pregnancy is because most drugs cross the placenta and reach the baby and there are many drugs that can be harmful to the baby.

Please note that before taking any medicine whilst being pregnant, you must seek the advice of a healthcare professional such as a doctor or your pharmacist. If you are taking long term medication, please speak to your doctor to determine the safety of this.

It is always best to avoid any medicines, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy; this is because foetal organs develop rapidly, making them vulnerable to the potential risks of drugs. Ailments such as a cold or an ache do not need medicine but if it is necessary then please read below for an outline to what is safe and unsafe. You should also try to use the lowest effective dose when possible.



A corticosteroid nasal spray which is used to reduce inflammation as well as sodium cromoglicate eye drops, to relieve itchy eyes are generally safe to use during pregnancy. This is because they act locally to the area respectively. However, pharmacists may be reluctant to sell you either without the advice from a doctor.

If you need tablets, again, they are generally quite safe, but some more than others. However pharmacists are restricted to sell them to someone who is pregnant due to licensing with manufacturers. If you do need antihistamine tablets then I would suggest getting a prescription from your doctor for Loratidine, if this isn’t suitable then Cetirizine can be used. Both these antihistamines do not cause drowsiness.


Pain and Fever

If you are in pain during your pregnancy, paracetamol is this safest painkiller to take. However, paracetamol with caffeine is not recommended during pregnancy. Paracetamol can be bought Over-The-Counter.

Ibuprofen can be taken up to 30 weeks of pregnancy, but again, pharmacists are reluctant to sell this Over-The-Counter due to licensing with manufacturers. However, a prescription may be obtained after consulting with your doctor.


 Pregnant woman suffering from pain and fever


Heartburn and Indigestion

These are both the most common ailment pregnant women will suffer with during pregnancy, especially as the pregnancy develops. This is because, as the baby grows, it can put pressure on the digestive tract as well smooth muscle in the digestive tract relaxing due to a surge in hormones. If you want to treat this without using drugs then you can try eating healthier i.e. avoiding fried, spicy foods or seating or sleeping slightly more upright i.e using more pillows to elevate your head, caffeine should also be avoided during pregnancy. Antacids containing Alginate are safe to use during pregnancy, these can be bought Over-The-Counter, they form a raft over the stomach contents and physically stop the acid rising to the oesophagus. If this does not help improve your heartburn or indigestion then you should speak to your doctor about obtaining a prescription for other medicines.


Cough and Cold

If you catch a cold during pregnancy, the best way to get rid of it is through trying non-drug remedies such as drinking plenty of fluids and getting as much rest as possible. To get rid of a stuffy nose, you can use a saline nasal spray. Paracetamol is safe to use for aches, pains and fever. Honey, lemon and warm water can be used for a sore throat and cough. Most cold and flu remedies contain alcohol which is not suitable to use during pregnancy which is why there are very few solutions Over-The-Counter for a cold. Flu jabs are available for pregnant women, so this is advisable to see a doctor for as sometimes a serious flu and develop into pneumonia.


Constipation and Haemorrhoids and Diarrhoea

To prevent Haemorrhoids during pregnancy, it is important to avoid constipation, as haemorrhoids may follow after constipation. You should stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, eat fibre-rich food and to exercise with your doctor’s approval. You should avoid standing for long periods of time, straining when going to the toilet and avoid rubbing the area, it is better to pat it. However if the problem persists, you may get but laxatives such as lactulose Over-The-Counter or glycerin suppositories but this is reserved for more severe piles. To treat haemorrhoids you could use a cream or an ointment that contains a local anaesthetic with an astringent to help with pain and discomfort as well as shrinking the haemorrhoids, these can be bought Over-The-Counter. Preparations with hydrocortisone should be avoided during pregnancy. For diarrhoea, whilst it may be uncomfortable there are no Over-The-Counter medicines to treat this; however you can take Oral Rehydration Salts to prevent yourself to being dehydrated, which can be bought Over-The-Counter.



Pharmacists are not allowed to sell any products for thrush to women who are pregnant. You must seek a doctor - like the more affordable Private GPs in London - for advice for this to obtain a prescription.


Every pregnancy is unique. You must consult with your doctor or pharmacist before you decide to start, stop or continue with any medicines. You should make a consultation with your doctor to discuss any ailments you may have and keep a record of your medical history.


Dipali Khurana

Superintendent Pharmacist, London Doctors Pharmacy