Natural pain relief

Try exploring natural remedies to relieve pregnancy aches and pains before resorting to medication. A head massage, drinking plenty of clear liquids, or resting in a darkened room can help relieve a tension headache. Gentle stretching exercises, or a warm bath can relieve backaches. Various complementary therapies can be used in pregnancy, for example, reflexology can relieve back pain and circulatory problems, and homeopathy can treat pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and indigestion. Before using any type of complementary therapy in pregnancy, consult your health-care provider.

Head massage:

A gentle head massage may be sufficient to ease a tension headache and avoid the need for medication.

Relaxing baths:

Taking time out to switch off and enjoy a long soak in a warm bath can help relieve problems such as backaches.

Travel safety

Enjoy hassle-free travel in pregnancy by planning ahead and taking sensible precautions. If you need to fly, check the airline's guidelines; many require a doctor's note after about 28 weeks to say that you are fit and most won't take pregnant women from around 34 weeks.

Taking sensible precautions against sun damage is particularly important in pregnancy when skin tends to darken quickly.

  • Check whether immunizations or other precautions, such as malaria treatment, are needed.

  • When flying, take frequent sips of bottled water, move your legs and ankles to lessen the risk of a blood clot, and wear support hose.

  • When abroad, drink only bottled water and wash your hands before eating.


Tanning beds may become a thing of the past since they pose health risks for everyone, not just pregnant women


Being aware of, and avoiding, environmental hazards is a sensible precaution to take during your pregnancy

Taking medicines in pregnancy What is safe to take?

The advice to pregnant women is to avoid taking any medicines in pregnancy if at all possible. If you do need to take medication, check with your midwife or doctor first, or ask your pharmacist for information on over-the-counter drugs. The list below offers some guidance.


For women with severe morning sickness, an antiemetic drug may be suggested. Your doctor or midwife will recommend one that is safe to take in pregnancy.


Most of these should be avoided in pregnancy. If you have hay fever, try to avoid known triggers and allergens, or talk to your doctor about safe medications in pregnancy.

Painkillers (analgesics):

If natural remedies, such as a head massage to relieve a headache, or a warm bath to ease a backache, don't work, then acetaminophen is generally considered safe for short-term use in pregnancy. Ibuprofen should be avoided entirely, as should aspirin (unless specifically prescribed by your doctor).


There are antibiotics that are safe for use in pregnancy. Penicillin-based ones are usually prescribed, or if you are allergic to these there are other safe alternatives. The following ones should be avoided in pregnancy:

  • Tetracylines can affect the development of a baby's bones and teeth and may cause discoloration of the teeth.

  • Streptomycin can cause damage to the ears of the growing fetus and result in hearing loss and so should be avoided in pregnancy.

  • Sulphonamides: These cause jaundice in the baby and are generally not given in pregnancy.


If you are suffering from constipation, try natural dietary remedies first, such as eating lots of fiber and drinking plenty of fluids. If these don't work, then over-the-counter laxatives are safe to take in pregnancy. Ones that contain bulking agents are the best.


Heartburn is a common problem in late pregnancy due to the pressure of the baby on the stomach and changes in pressure in the chest cavity. Antacids are generally safe to take, but avoid sodium bicarbonate since the sodium is absorbed into the bloodstream.


These should be avoided. If you experience sudden swelling in the face, hands, or feet, you should talk to your doctor or midwife, since this is one of the signs of preeclampsia.

Cold and flu remedies:

Since these remedies often contain a variety of ingredients, which can include antihistamines and other decongestants that are best avoided in pregnancy, it's important to check the label carefully and talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking any of these. Try natural remedies, such as steam inhalations, before resorting to medicines, or simply take acetaminophen for a short time.


Anabolic steroids should not be used in pregnancy. It's safe to use mild steroid creams short term for eczema, although avoid using these over a large surface area. Steroid asthma inhalers are safe, as are steroids prescribed for other conditions if your doctor knows you are pregnant.

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