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What kind of natural remedies and medications can I use while I'm pregnant?

by Randy Shannon

posted on behalf of Deanna Schwake, CNM

One of the most frequent questions I get asked by patients is: What kinds of natural remedies and medications can they use while pregnant. While it is a very frequent concern, it’s also a very complex topic to discuss. Overall, less is more. The best advice I can give is to avoid medication or supplements if you don't need them. 

Because there are very few studies done on pregnant women, we don't know the effects of medications on your unborn baby. Health care providers decide which medications you can take by using 'pregnancy risk' categories and by experience to determine if a drug is safe for you to take while you are pregnant. There are always side effects to anything you put in your body, including food.

Natural remedies and supplements are even harder for us to say are safe since there could be variable amounts of the plant in each preparation.

So back to the question, what can I take? It depends on what your symptoms are. It’s always best to discuss this with your provider. To get rid of pain or aches I suggest:

- Tylenol - which is frequently used for pain relief, headaches and overall 

- Soak in a tub of warm water – a great way to ease sore muscles is to aches. Soak in a tub of warm water with about a 1/3 cup of baking soda (and if you have it) a few drops of lavender essential oil.

- Get a massage – a prenatal massage is also a great way to ease tension.

When one of my patients gets a cold or has allergies, I always recommend using a Neti pot. It is a nasal wash and helps women breathe easier without any medication or herbal preparation. You can see a demonstration of it on YouTube. For a medication, Benadryl at night or Zyrtec works too.

It’s important to discuss your symptoms with your provider and make a plan of care together before starting or stopping any medications.