13 Widely Used Medications to Avoid During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, you and your baby share the same blood supply. This means that everything that you eat and drink has a direct effect on the little human being developing inside you. It also means that any medications that you take will affect your growing baby.

Pregnancy is a wonderful time. However, the impending joy of bringing a new life into the world often accompanies physical ailments. This can prompt expecting mothers to seek out drugs for relief. Unfortunately, many widely used medications can harm you and your baby.

Avoid these 13 potentially dangerous medications during pregnancy…

Nasal Decongestants

Nasal Decongestants

When you have a stuffy nose and itchy, watery eyes – symptoms that women tend to experience more during pregnancy – nasal decongestants can provide relief. But these drugs come with side effects.

Nasal decongestant medications during pregnancy can cause symptoms such as nausea, insomnia, and migraine headaches, among many others. This can place additional strain on the body.



Antihistamines reduce or block histamines. They are commonly prescribed for relieving allergy symptoms such as rash, a runny nose, sneezing, and congestion. They can be dangerous when you’re pregnant, though.

Some types of antihistamine medications contain ingredients that can cause extreme adverse reactions during pregnancy, particularly in the last trimester. Moreover, these drugs can cause fatigue, fainting, and dryness.

Antifungal Medications


Avoid common antifungal drugs when you are pregnant. Instead, contact your gynecologist for professional guidance and a safe and effective treatment plan that won’t harm your baby.

During pregnancy, vaginal yeast infections are common, but certain ingredients in antifungal meds like Fluconazole can penetrate the placental barrier and negatively affect fetal development.



While acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be safe for most women during pregnancy, NSAID pain medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can be dangerous and harm both you and your unborn baby.

Prescription pain medications such as opioids can be harmful, too. Some of the risks associated with these drugs in pregnancy include miscarriage, preterm delivery, birth defects, and withdrawal symptoms.

Acne Drugs


Many women develop acne during pregnancy due to the natural hormonal imbalance that occurs. This can be addressed safely in most cases. However, there are several acne medications that are unsafe.

Drugs like tretinoin (Retin-A) and isotretinoin (Accutane), for example, have been known to cause problems in developing fetuses. This includes abnormalities of the heart, brain, and skeletal structures.


Anxiety, panic attacks, and mood disorders can worsen or be triggered by pregnancy, but think twice before taking benzodiazepine drugs like diazepam (Valium) and chlordiazepoxide (Librium).

Tranquilizers have been linked to birth defects like cleft lip and cleft palate, especially when taken in the first trimester. Taking them later in your pregnancy can result in low birth weight and respiratory problems.


Not all antibiotics are bad during pregnancy. In fact, in certain circumstances, they may be necessary, and your doctor will have no problem prescribing them. That being said, some antibiotics can be harmful.

Antibiotics to stay away from when pregnant include ciprofloxacin, tetracycline, and streptomycin. Doxycycline, nitrofurantoin, minocycline, and co-trimoxazole are others that are best to avoid.


Antidepressant drugs can have adverse effects during pregnancy or when breastfeeding. In studies, SSRIs and MAO inhibitors showed an increased risk for certain medical problems in both mother and baby.

SSRIs have been associated with the development of autism, mental disorders, and heart defects, while MAO inhibitors can limit fetal growth and cause irritability and withdrawal symptoms in newborns.

Illegal/Recreational Drugs

The consumption of drugs like methamphetamines, marijuana, and cocaine is an all-around bad idea when you’re pregnant. It can result in a variety of health issues during pregnancy and beyond.

Taking these drugs when pregnant increases the risk of fetal heart deformities, developmental delays and low birth weight, and preterm birth, as well as severe bleeding and miscarriage in expecting mothers.

Travel Immunization Vaccines

When traveling to areas with high incidences of yellow fever and malaria, it is typically compulsory to get immunization vaccinations, but there’s a possibility that these vaccines may affect fetal health.

Live vaccines are generally not recommended for pregnant women. It’s important to note, though, that the benefits associated with these vaccines normally outweigh the risks during pregnancy.


Though research is lacking, stimulant drugs such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) may cause fetal harm and developmental impairments in pregnant women with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

If you’re pregnant and have ADHD, talk to your doctor. Most pregnant women with mild to moderate ADHD symptoms can function without major difficulty when stopping their medication temporarily.

Morning Sickness Medications

Morning sickness (nausea gravidarum) is seen as a good sign during pregnancy. Nevertheless, it can be incredibly unpleasant. Thus, many women go out and get OTC pills, which can be unsafe.

Over-the-counter meds like pyridoxine and ginger can help to control nausea and vomiting but cause other problems. In high doses, these substances may lead to miscarriages and seizures in newborns.

Herbal Meds

Herbal medications can offer a variety of health benefits during pregnancy. Yet, there are some herbs that can have serious adverse effects, resulting in miscarriage, stillbirth, or developmental defects.

Unsafe herbs that should be avoided during pregnancy include rosemary, ginseng, aloe vera, licorice, yarrow, ephedra, cinnamon, pennyroyal, wormwood, and cohosh.