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Medicines during pregnancy

medicines; medication; drugs; pregnancy; pregnant; infant; baby; fetus; pain; relief; paracetamol; aspirin; codeine; acne; Isotretinoin; laxatives; herbal; vitamins; minerals; ibuprofen; Nurofen; advil; brufen;


Prescription medicines

If you take any prescribed medicines, you should talk to your doctor when you are planning to become pregnant or as soon as you think you are pregnant.

It is very important to continue taking medicines that have been prescribed for health problems such as asthma, diabetes, depression and epilepsy.

  • Many women are worried about the effects that medicines may have on their unborn baby, and may stop taking them, but this can lead to health problems for the mother, which is also not good for the baby.

Your doctor will be able to tell you if your medicine is suitable to use during pregnancy, or if there is a different medicine that may be safer.

In South Australia you can contact the SA Pharmacy Obstetric and Paediatric Medicines Information Service located at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

  • A pharmacist can advise you if a particular prescription or non-prescription medicine is safe while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • You can contact the service Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm on 08 8161 7222.

In Australia you could ring the National Medicines Line 1300 633 424 (1300 MEDICINE)  9am - 5 pm Monday to Friday (Eastern Standard Time). For more information visit NPS Medicinewise www.nps.org.au 

Non-prescription medicines

Before you take any type of medicine when you are pregnant, check with your pharmacist, midwife or doctor to find out if it is safe to use. Many products that you buy from the pharmacy, health food store or supermarket may not be safe for use during pregnancy.

Some products that are generally safe include:

  • Painkillers
    • Paracetamol alone or with codeine is safe, but check the reason for pain with your midwife, doctor or pharmacist.
    • Do not take aspirin and other pain relief medicines such as ibuprofen. (Doctors may sometimes prescribe low dose aspirin (100mg per day) for some health problems.)
  • Treatments for morning sickness
    • There are many drugs for nausea and vomiting available in Australia that are believed to be safe in pregnancy including Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) and several prescribed medicines (such as prochlorperazine and metoclopramide).
    • Always consult your doctor or a pharmacist before taking them.
    • Have a look at the topic 'Morning sickness' for more information about managing this health problem.
  • Cough and cold medicines
    • Some may be safe, but always check with a pharmacist. Nasal sprays may be a good option for short term use.
  • Herbal medicines
    • Many herbal medicines may not be safe during pregnancy, so check with a pharmacist.
  • Laxatives
    • It is okay to use products that contain psyllium (such as Metamucil**), but avoid products containing senna – except if advised to use them by a doctor.
  • Acne treatments
    • Most non-prescription acne treatments that you use on your skin are safe – but check with a pharmacist.
    • One prescribed oral acne medication (Isotretinoin) that is used for severe acne has a high chance of causing birth defects. You should very carefully use contraceptive methods when using this drug (your doctor will have been very clear about this). If you become pregnant while taking this medication stop the treatment immediately and call your doctor.
  • Vitamins and minerals
    Folic acid – it is recommended that all women who are planning to become pregnant, and women who are in their first 3 months of pregnancy, take folic acid tablets to help lower the risks of some birth defects. You do not need a prescription to get these tablets, and they are safe during pregnancy.Have a look at the topic Folic acid (Folate)
    Iron and calcium
    – it is often recommended that pregnant women take extra iron and calcium, and these are safe in normal doses.
    Iodine - many pregnant women in Australia do not get enough iodine in their diet. Speak to your doctor about taking an iodine supplement. Many pregnancy multivitamin and mineral supplements contain iodine. Have a look at the information about iodine in the Eating well in pregnancy topic.
    Other vitamins and minerals - a well balanced diet should supply you with the vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy.



    Medicines Line 1300 MEDICINES (1300 633 424) Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm EST


**Any products referred to in our health topics are usually well-known brands readily available in Australia. The brand names are given as examples only, and do not necessarily represent the best products, nor the full range of effective products on the market.

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.


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