Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Medicines During Pregnancy

Medicines During Pregnancy

Overview

Medicines you can 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. That's 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 are.

In general, doctors say it is usually safe to take the following.

Prescription medicines
  • Some medicines for high blood pressure
  • Most medicines for asthma
  • Some medicines for depression
  • Penicillin and some other antibiotics
  • Medicines for HIV
Over-the-counter medicines
  • Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for fever and pain
  • Some allergy medicines, including loratadine (such as Alavert and Claritin) and diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl)
  • Some over-the-counter cold medicines

Talk to your doctor or midwife about any medicines you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements.

Deciding about medicines during pregnancy

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 what if you take medicine for a health problem, such as high blood pressure or asthma? Your doctor or midwife will look at the risks. A medicine may have risks, but not treating your illness could be risky too. If you or your baby would face worse problems without treatment, then your doctor or midwife may keep you on your current medicine or switch you to another one. Some medicines that aren't safe in the first trimester may be safe to use later in the pregnancy.

Medicines you need to avoid during pregnancy

Some medicines are known to increase the chance of birth defects or other problems. But sometimes there's more risk for the mother and the baby if the mother stops taking a medicine (such as one that controls seizures) than if the mother keeps taking it. You can work with your doctor or midwife to make the safest medicine choices.

Some medicines that increase the risk of birth defects are:

  • The acne medicine isotretinoin. This medicine is very likely to cause birth defects. It should not be taken by women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant.
  • ACE inhibitors, such as benazepril and lisinopril. These medicines are used to treat high blood pressure and some heart conditions.
  • Some medicines to control seizures, such as valproic acid.
  • Methotrexate. It is sometimes used to treat arthritis.
  • Warfarin (such as Coumadin). It helps prevent blood clots.
  • Lithium. It is used to treat bipolar depression.
  • Alprazolam (such as Xanax), diazepam (such as Valium), and some other medicines used to treat anxiety.
  • Over-the-counter pain medicines like ibuprofen (such as Advil and Motrin) and naproxen (such as Aleve). The risk of birth defects with these medicines is low, but acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) is a safer choice.

Folic acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin. Taking it before and during early pregnancy reduces the risk that your baby will have a neural tube defect or other birth defects.

  • During childbearing age, you should get 0.4 mg (400 mcg) to 0.8 mg (800 mcg) of folic acid. You can get it from fortified foods (such as cereals) and supplements.
  • If you are pregnant with twins or more, you should get 1 mg (1000 mcg) of folic acid daily.

You may need even more folic acid if you have a family history of neural tube defects, had a baby with this defect, or take medicines for seizures. Experts recommend 4 mg (4000 mcg) of folic acid a day.

If you need extra folic acid, work with your doctor. Don't try to do it on your own by taking more multivitamins. You could get too much of the other substances that are in the multivitamin.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Related Links

Pregnancy

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details