When your allergies act up or you get the sniffles, it’s tempting to reach for the medicines you know will make you feel better. But are they still safe to take when you’re pregnant? Here’s what you need to know about taking medicine during pregnancy.
The only reason to proceed with caution when taking an antihistamine is if you’re considering the non-drowsy types to treat seasonal allergies.
The “sedating” antihistamines, such as Benadryl, Nytol, Gravol, etc., are safe during pregnancy. And antihistamines that are sometimes prescribed for morning sickness (such as Unisom Nighttime Sleep Aid) are also safe for moms-to-be.
Many over-the-counter cough medicines, such as Benylin DM, Tylenol Cough and Dimetapp, contain the cough-suppressant DM, according to Motherisk, a research program that provides prenatal and infant health information at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
About DM, Motherisk says “there is no evidence the drug is dangerous to the fetus and the information showing it to be safe is rather large.” Bottom line: The benefit/risk assessment can be weighed in favour of taking the medication. However, Gideon Koren, director of Motherisk, recommends that pregnant women not use cough medicines for more than a few days at a time.
Motherisk has a long list of cold medications it deems “possibly safe.” As you might expect, this isn’t as reassuring as “probably safe.” Motherisk says of the meds that fall into this category: “There is no evidence the drug is dangerous for the fetus, but the information showing it to be safe is limited.” This list includes Sudafed Decongestant, Dimetapp Daytime Cold, Dristan N.D., Sinutab Sinus, Sinutab Sinus and Allergy, Tylenol Sinus, Tylenol Cold, Sinutab with Codeine, Tylenol Flu, Triaminic Cold, Robitussin Honey Flu, Robitussin Cough & Cold, Benylin 4 Flu, Advil Cold and Sinus, Claritin Extra, among others.
If you’ve got chronic asthma, talk to your physician before discontinuing any medication to manage your condition. You could be taking a greater risk by discontinuing your meds. According to Motherisk, uncontrolled asthma is associated with a higher risk of preterm birth and stillbirth. Most first-line asthma drugs, such as Ventolin and inhaled steroids (Beclomethasone, for example) have not been shown to harm the fetus. The key is to talk to your doctor about what will be safest for you and your baby.
TIP Did you know? If you have any questions about which medicines are safe during pregnancy, your Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacist can provide you with more details about the safe use of prescription and non-prescription medications.