What Medications Can I Take for a Cold During Pregnancy?

Even if you’ve tried your best to avoid it, you may catch a cold while you’re pregnant. Taking over-the-counter medications can be risky for mother and baby, so you’ll need to read labels to ensure that cold medicines are safe for the both of you. Those shelves full of cold and flu medications can be intimidating and overwhelming, and especially so when you’re pregnant.

You’ll likely want to hone in on a single medication to treat your main symptom, such as a stuffy nose or sinus pain. Otherwise, you may take more medicine than you actually intended, and there is further concern about medication interactions during pregnancy.

You will always want to check with your OB-GYN or physician before taking any medicines in pregnancy. Here are some general guidelines for pregnancy-friendly medication.

Pain Relievers

If your cold or flu is accompanied by painful aches and fevers, reach for acetaminophen (such as Tylenol). Doctors recommend avoiding nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, however.


These are medications that help to loosen and get rid of the phlegm that comes with a cold, Read the labels for confirmation, but if it a medicine contains guaifenesin, it can thin and loosen mucus in the airways, clear congestion, make breathing easier, and not be contraindicated in pregnancy.

Cough Suppressants

A suppressant literally tries to stop coughing from happening. Coughs can be a persistent and uncomfortable annoyance that affects sleep and normal functioning. Doctors typically say that dextromethorphan (DM), the active ingredient in a lot of cough syrups, is safe in pregnancy. Read the labels, though, as sometimes cough suppressants contain other medications. You should always see a doctor for a stubborn and prolonged cough.


These medications are designed to relieve stuffy noses and sinuses. Doctors recommend that using these in pregnancy should be done cautiously and only when absolutely necessary. Taking it in a nasal spray is likely preferred because less is absorbed into the system that way, decreasing the risk to babies.

There are also natural ways to ease those uncomfortable symptoms, including:


Humidifiers increase the moisture level in the air, making it easier to breathe. They are particularly helpful at night. A cool mist humidifier doesn’t heat up, so there is no chance of burns. Plus, you can use these with your infants and children to relieve their cold symptoms as well. You can also pile your pillows up to raise your head and help ease your cough since this stops the postnasal drip that often leads to nighttime coughing.

Warm Tea

A mug of tea can help pain and congestion and pain. But if it’s herbal tea, check what’s in it, as many teas are mixtures. Read the label to make sure there are no unhealthy or contraindicated ingredients.

Vitamin C

Doctors say vitamin C is safe for pregnant women, but don’t overdo it.

Something further to note—if your doctor recommends or prescribes you the wrong medication and it ends up causing you or your baby harm, you may have a valid claim for medical malpractice. Since these cases are very complex from both a legal and medical standpoint, it’s best to schedule a consultation with a medical malpractice attorney to find out if your circumstances constitute medical malpractice.