Taking medicines in pregnancy

Before taking a medicine while you’re pregnant, there are a few things to think about.


Can I take medicines if I'm pregnant?

Many medicines are safe to use while you are pregnant, but some can harm your baby. Always check with your health professional about any medicines you take or are planning to take.

Sometimes you can look after a health problem without needing to use medicines.

Sometimes you need to keep taking a medicine. For example, you may have a medical condition like asthma, diabetes, depression, or seizures (epilepsy). Without the medicine, your health or your baby’s health could be at risk.

Some medicines must not be taken when you are pregnant. Others must be used carefully. You should always talk to your doctor or health professional about using medicines when you are pregnant.

Call the Medicines Line

If you have questions about medicines, call the Medicines Line 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) from anywhere in Australia. Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm AEST (excluding NSW public holidays).

This telephone service is not for emergencies, medical advice or second opinions.

How do medicines cause harm during pregnancy?

Medicines can cause harm during pregnancy in different ways.

  • Some stop the baby from growing.
  • Others lower the amount of nutrients the baby gets.
  • Some can up the chance of losing the baby or having the baby early.
  • Others may have side effects that affect the baby, like feeling sleepy around the time of birth.

Ask questions about any medicines you take as you plan your pregnancy. Make sure you get the right information about medicines at all stages of your pregnancy.

Ask yourself – what medicine is it, why are you taking it and what’s in it?

Think about what medicine you’re taking, why you’re taking it, and what’s in it.

Using any medicine during pregnancy needs careful review by the health professional caring for you. They will think about the good points and the possible harm of taking the medicine. Any decision about taking a medicine during pregnancy should always:

  • involve your health professional and you
  • take into account:
    • what is known about the medicine, and
    • your health and stage of pregnancy.

Some medicines must not be used during pregnancy. Others must be used carefully. It could be that you take a different dose, or you take it less often.  You should always talk to your doctor or health professional about how to take any medicines when you are pregnant. This is not just for prescription medicines. Make sure they know about other medicines such as the ones you buy at the pharmacy as well as vitamins, supplements and herbal medicines.

What if I need to take medicines?

Some medicines can affect a baby before it is born. But not taking medicine for some conditions can be more harmful for both you and your baby.

If you take medicine for a health condition, make sure you have a health check if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy. Your usual healthcare professional is the best person to assess your treatment. Sometimes changes to your medicines may be needed to ensure the health of you and your growing baby.

What about complementary medicines?

Remember that medicines don’t just come on a script from your doctor — there are also over-the-counter and complementary medicines. Some of these medicines can affect your baby. Always check with your health professional before taking any type of medicine.

Complementary medicines can be called ‘traditional’ or ‘alternative’ medicines. They include vitamin, mineral, herbal, aromatherapy and homeopathy products. Many complementary medicines have not been studied to the same level as prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Often, less is known about how well they work, their side effects and interactions.

Some medicines from a supermarket, pharmacy, health food store or online may not be safe for use during pregnancy.

Vitamins for pregnancy

Some vitamin mixes are specifically for use during pregnancy. This helps people take the right amount of certain vitamins and minerals (such as folic acid). Talk to your healthcare professional about your specific diet needs during pregnancy.

Where can I get more information?

Traditional sources of information such as Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) leaflets do not always have a lot of information about using the medicine in pregnancy. Your health professionals are the best way to find out about if you can take the medicine when pregnant, and what else you might need to do to manage any health issues during that time. 

What questions do I need to ask?

The top questions to ask your health professional about using medicines during pregnancy:

  • What is the medicine for?
  • What Is known about using this medicine in pregnancy? 
  • Is it safe to take?
  • What are the possible side effects for me and for the baby, and what can I do about them?
  • How do I use or take the medicine correctly?
  • What should, or shouldn’t I do while taking this medicine?

Where can I find more information?

If you are pregnant and would like to find out more about a particular medicine:

  • Call Medicines Line on 1300 633 424 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm AEST)
  • Talk to your health care team 
  • Read the packaging, labels and information for your medicine (also available on our website through the Medicine Finder or from your pharmacist or prescriber)
  • Contact your local women and children’s medical service and/or hospital
  • Mothersafe factsheets from Sydney's Royal Hospital for Women