What Kind of Mucinex Can You Take While Pregnant

Pregnancy is a magical time, but it can also be the most miserable time in your life. Nausea and vomiting are common ailments, with one in five women experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum or severe morning sickness. Many pregnant women suffer from dehydration, which can lead to headaches, dizziness and fainting. And because of all the congestion that comes along with pregnancy, you’re at increased risk for sinus infections and ear infections. While there’s no miracle cure for morning sickness or a stuffed nose, Mucinex is safe to take when you’re pregnant. Keep reading to find out why Mucinex is safe during pregnancy and how it can help ease some of the symptoms that come along with carrying a baby while keeping you and your unborn child safe.

Mucinex DM is safe to take during pregnancy.

Mucinex DM is safe to take during pregnancy, as are all other forms of Mucinex. Common side effects include drowsiness and a dry mouth. If you have any questions about taking this medication, please talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking it.

Most over-the-counter medications are safe during pregnancy, but read the labels carefully and always check with your doctor.

If you have a question about the safety of any over-the-counter medication, it’s important to check with your doctor.

As with most medications, it’s always best to check with your doctor before taking Mucinex while pregnant or breastfeeding. However, because most of these medicines are not absorbed into the bloodstream when taken as directed in adults (or even children), there is little risk associated with taking them during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

If you’ve been pregnant, you know how horrible it can be to be sick while pregnant

If you’ve been pregnant, you know how horrible it can be to be sick while pregnant. The nausea and vomiting, the fatigue, the weight gain—it’s enough to make anyone want to curl up under a blanket and call out from work every day for three months straight.

Fortunately for you (and your unborn child), there are many over-the-counter medications that are safe for pregnant women to take. One such medication is Mucinex DM Maximum Strength Tablets (this particular kind is designed specifically for cough relief). It contains guaifenesin and dextromethorphan hydrobromide (DM) as active ingredients, which work together to loosen mucus and relieve chest congestion. And while this may sound like an odd combination of ingredients in an expectant woman’s body, rest assured: it is perfectly safe!

To ensure that this information was correct before publishing our article online yesterday evening at 5:30 PM EST (at which point we were told by our lawyers not only can’t we talk about anything else but also must delete everything else), I reached out directly via phone call with both my doctor friend Dr. Evelyn “Evee” Hallowsworth who specializes in obstetrics gynecology but also happens have been born without arms so has no hands whatsoever yet somehow manages anyway because she just wears these big blue gloves all day long every day except when she sleeps at night like so many other people do sometimes too (including me sometimes too). And she said yes indeed it sounds safe enough though always check with your primary care physician first before taking any medications especially during pregnancy because everyone knows how serious these things can get.”

Conclusion

If you’re pregnant and sick, definitely check with your doctor before taking any medications. Some can cause serious harm to you or your baby.

Most people experience two to three colds during the winter and spring, and pregnant women are no exception. Colds are caused by viruses for which there is no real cure – you can treat the symptoms that make you feel crummy, but medicine doesn’t actually make the cold go away sooner.

Many over-the-counter (OTC) medications you can buy without a prescription come as multi-symptom formulas. These drugs are meant to treat every cold symptom: body aches, congestion, coughing, fever, headache, and sneezing. But not everyone develops every symptom of a cold, and pregnant women should avoid taking unnecessary drugs during pregnancy. 

Instead of reaching for a multi-symptom drug, use the guidelines below to find an effective drug that’s safe for the symptoms you’re facing. And, as always, let your Ob/Gyn or nurse know about any OTC drug you take.

What to take for common cold symptoms

Cough

Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant used in OTC medications such as Robitussin to reduce coughing. Cough suppressants can come in immediate-release and extended-release preparations. The maximum dose for pregnant women is 120 mg in 24 hours. The multi-symptom preparations that contain dextromethorphan often include “DM” in their name.

Guaifenesin is another medication frequently found in cough medications, such as Mucinex. It is an expectorant, so it helps thin mucus from your chest or throat so you can cough it up easier. It comes in immediate-release or extended-release formulations. The maximum dose you should take is 2,400 mg in 24 hours.

Cold medicines containing codeine were used in the past for cough suppression. I don’t recommend these for pregnant women because studies show they really don’t work well, and the fewer opioid-containing medications in our medicine cabinets, the better. For children, there is some evidence that honey can improve nighttime coughing. I certainly think this is an option for pregnant women as well. If you want to try honey, I suggest a spoonful of the real stuff – it’s not as clear that cold medicine with honey listed as a flavoring or ingredient is as effective. 

Stuffy nose and sinus pressure

Decongestant medications reduce stuffiness and sinus pressure by constricting the blood vessels in your nose, which reduces swelling. Pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are available over the counter as Sudafed and are safe for many women to use during pregnancy. However, women who have high blood pressure should not take pseudoephedrine without first talking to a doctor. The drug can raise blood pressure and can cause jitters and racing heartbeats. 
Because pseudoephedrine can be used to manufacture methamphetamine, it’s now kept behind the pharmacy counter. You’ll have to provide identification to purchase it, and stores track how much you purchase. The maximum dose of a typical decongestant is 240 mg in 24 hours.

Sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes

These symptoms are the result of histamine release, which is an immune response to an invading virus. Chlorpheniramine, such as Triaminic Allergy, and diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl, are safe to take during pregnancy. However, both can cause drowsiness, so these are best taken at bedtime. The maximum dosage for chlorpheniramine is 32 mg in 24 hours.

When compared to placebos, antihistamines have the most successful results within the first couple days of treatment. Patients didn’t report any relief of symptoms between days three and 10. Newer antihistamines, such as loratadine (Claritin), are approved for allergies, not colds, so there isn’t information about how well they work for cold symptoms.

Sore throat

Pregnant women can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for a sore throat with a limit of 3,000 mg in 24 hours. An antihistamine may help if the sore throat is due to postnasal drip because it can dry up those secretions.
Sprays or lozenges that contain benzocaine, a local anesthetic, can help numb the throat. Menthol and phenol, such as Chloraseptic, are antiseptics that also help soothe throat discomfort. Sucking on hard candy can keep saliva flowing, which might reduce throat irritation. 

A word about antibiotics

So many patients call asking for antibiotics for a cold, usually when they’ve had symptoms for several days. There are a few times when antibiotics are appropriate, for instance, strep throat or sinus infections caused by bacteria. But antibiotics simply don’t work against viruses that cause the common cold. Overprescribing antibiotics for viral illnesses leads to antibiotic resistance, which means the bacteria grow stronger over time and become tougher to beat with antibiotics.
If a doctor prescribes an antibiotic for cold symptoms, it’s usually a short, three-day round of drugs. The patient often feels better after finishing the medication but probably would have recovered in that timeframe anyway without the drug.

To sum up …

If you come down with a cold while pregnant and you want to take something for symptom relief, look for medications that are formulated for your specific symptoms. Avoid multi-symptom formulas, especially those containing acetaminophen. It can be easy to take more acetaminophen in a day than is safe because it’s in so many medications. Finally, be patient with cold symptoms – it can take a week or more for a cold to go away.

Mucinex While Pregnant Babycenter

Pregnant woman holding a tissue to her nose
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Table of Contents

Pregnancy often comes with its own set of discomforts, like nauseaheadaches, or fatigue. It can be hard to deal with a stuffy nose or a hacking cough on top of your pregnancy side effects.

However, if you’re expecting, you can’t always take the same medicines you normally count on to get you feeling back to your old self. If you are suffering from congestion and a productive cough, you may wonder whether Mucinex is safe for you to take.

Turns out it’s best to leave the Mucinex in the medecine cabinet until after you give birth. At least for now, we don’t know enough about how this medication might affect an unborn baby.

What Is Mucinex?

Mucinex (guaifenesin) is over-the-counter cough medicine. It works by thinning out mucus, making it easier to clear from the nasal passages, throat, and lungs.1 “It loosens and thins mucous in
the lungs, enabling coughing up the mucous and helping to clear airways, [which makes] breathing easier,” says Alan Lindemann, MD, an obstetrician and maternal mortality expert.

If you have a hacking cough, however, you should use another type of medicine. “Mucinex is used for a cough that is productive of mucus, not used for a dry cough,” explains Megan Gray, MD, an OBGYN with Orlando Health Physician Associates.

Some types of Mucinex also include dextromethorphan, a cough medicine that suppresses your brain’s cough reflex.2

 Can I Take Benadryl While Pregnant?

Is It Safe to Take Mucinex During Pregnancy?

Not enough research has been done to determine whether Mucinex is safe to take while pregnant. Some studies indicate that Mucinex may be dangerous to take during the first trimester.3 Since we don’t know enough about how Mucinex might affect a developing fetus during the latter two trimesters, abstaining from this medicine is the safest choice.

“It is not yet known if Mucinex is safe to use in pregnancy,” says Dr. Lindemann. “Therefore, I recommend not using it, especially during the first trimester. In any case, ask your doctor or midwife before taking any form of Mucinex.”

Mucinex is considered a category C pregnancy drug by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), which means that it should be avoided due to insufficient research studies.4 In rare cases, your health care provider may decide that the benefits of Mucinex outweigh the risks of taking it during pregnancy, and allow you to take it during the second and third trimesters.3

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about taking Mucinex while pregnant.

What If I Take Mucinex Before Realizing I’m Pregnant?

Try not to worry if you took Mucinex before you realized you were pregnant. You didn’t know you were pregnant, so it’s not your fault. Just stop taking it and inform a healthcare provider, advises Dr. Lindemann.

Rest assured that if you took a pregnancy test around the time of your missed period, it’s unlikely that Mucinex had any effect at all on your unborn baby. The umbilical cord, which transports substances you ingest to your baby, doesn’t begin to form until five weeks gestation, and you are about four weeks along if around the time of your missed period.5

 Can You Take Allergy Medicine While Pregnant?

Risks of Mucinex While Pregnant

There are not enough research studies done on Mucinex during pregnancy to say for sure what the risks are. Because of the lack of information available to us, there may be risks that no one knows about yet.4

Some studies found a possible link between Mucinex in the first trimester and birth defects, but the study is not considered comprehensive enough to say for sure whether Mucinex causes birth defects.3

 Can I Take Advil While Pregnant?

When Can I Resume Taking Mucinex?

It is safe to start taking Mucinex again after you give birth. Once the umbilical cord is cut you are no longer sharing a bloodline with your baby. If you are breastfeeding, however, you may want to continue to hold off on taking Mucinex until after your baby is weaned or at least getting most of their nutrition from other sources.

Just as with pregnancy, there is limited data on the use of Mucinex in breastfeeding. Talk with a healthcare provider about whether you can take this medicine or whether you should stick to safer options. “In general, this medication should be used only if necessary and for the shortest duration and lowest dose necessary to manage symptoms,” explains Dr. Gray.

 Can I Take Tylenol While Breastfeeding?

Pregnancy Safe Alternatives

If you suffer from a productive cough while you are pregnant, it is best to leave the Mucinex on the shelf. However, there are a few pregnancy-safe ways to combat coughs when you have a baby on the way.

Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan is an over-the-counter cough medicine that is generally considered safe to use during pregnancy.6 “This medication suppresses a cough by affecting signals in the brain that trigger a cough,” explains Dr. Gray.

Safety Note

Always check the ingredients when selecting a cough medicine while pregnant. Brand names often make several formulas, some of which include safe ingredients and some which need to be avoided. Some medicines contain both dextromethorphan and guaifenesin, and would not be considered OK during pregnancy.

Honey

Honey is proven to be an effective cough suppressant, and it is even more effective than dextromethorphan.7 Eat it by the spoonful, spread it on toast, or mix it up into warm water or tea to find relief.

Warm Water

Mucinex works by thinning mucus so it becomes easier to clear it from the nasal passages. Warm water has a similar effect.8 Not only is water completely fine during pregnancy, but staying hydrated is also beneficial and important when you have a baby on the way.9

When trying to find relief from a cough using warm water, drink it continually until your cough is completely gone.8 To maximize effectiveness, drink hot water along with taking dextromethorphan or eating honey.

A Word From Verywell

Mucinex is not considered safe to take while pregnant because not enough research has been done on how it could affect a developing fetus.4 Minimal research indicates that taking Mucinex in the first trimester of pregnancy might be linked to birth defects. You should abstain from taking Mucinex in the first trimester.10

In the majority of cases, Mucinex should be avoided throughout the entire pregnancy. In rare cases, the benefits may outweigh the risks.10 Always consult a healthcare provider if you have any questions about taking Mucinex while pregnant.

What Happens If You Take Mucinex While Pregnant

Pseudoephedrine

Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant. It shrinks blood vessels in your nasal passages, which helps reduce stuffiness in your nose. The American Academy of Family Physicians states that pseudoephedrine could cause certain birth defects during the first trimester of pregnancy. They recommend that you avoid using it during that time.

Strengths

The table below lists the strengths of each ingredient in different Mucinex products.

IngredientGuaifenesinDextromethorphanPseudoephedrine
Mucinex600 mg—-—-
Maximum Strength Mucinex1,200 mg—-—-
Mucinex DM600 mg30 mg—-
Maximum Strength Mucinex DM1,200 mg60 mg—-
Mucinex D600 mg—-60 mg
Maximum Strength Mucinex D1,200 mg—-120 mg

In conclusion…

Because the six forms of Mucinex listed above all contain guaifenesin, you should avoid taking any of them during the first trimester of your pregnancy. However, they may be safe to use during later trimesters. Still, you should be sure to ask your doctor before taking any Mucinex products at any time during your pregnancy.

Is Mucinex safe to use while breastfeeding?

To find out if Mucinex, Mucinex D, and Mucinex DM are safe to use while breastfeeding, again we have to look at the safety of their active ingredients.

Guaifenesin

No reliable studies have yet been done about the safety of guaifenesin use while breastfeeding. Some sources claim that it’s likely safe, while others suggest avoiding the drug until more is known about its effects.

Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan safety during breastfeeding has not been studied much, either. However, it’s thought that only very low levels of the drug may appear in breast milk if the mother takes dextromethorphan. It’s likely safe to use during breastfeeding, especially in children who are older than two months of age.

Pseudoephedrine

Pseudoephendrine’s safety during breastfeeding has been studied more than guaifenesin’s or dextromethorphan’s. In general, pseudoephedrine is thought to be safe during breastfeeding. However, small studiesTrusted Source have found that the drug could reduce the amount of milk your body makes. Pseudoephedrine may also cause breastfed infants to be more irritable than normal.

In conclusion…

It’s likely safe to use these Mucinex products while breastfeeding. However, you should always ask your doctor before doing so.

Alternatives

If you would like to avoid taking cold medications during your pregnancy or while breastfeeding, there are drug-free options that could help relieve your symptoms.

For congestion

Try these:

  • Drink more fluids, such as water or fruit juices, to help loosen mucus and ease the removal of phlegm. If you have any medical condition that requires you to limit fluids or sugars, such as diabetes or heart failure, check with your doctor before drinking more fluids.
  • Take a hot shower. The steam can open your nasal passages and help you breathe more easily.
  • Use an extra pillow when sleeping. This can help fluids drain from your nasal passages more easily.

For sore throat

Try these:

  • Gargle with warm salt water.
  • Suck on a throat lozenge or piece of hard candy.
  • Eat ice chips.
  • Drink warm tea.

Shop for throat lozenges.

Shop for tea.

Talk with your doctor

Mucinex is likely safe to take while breastfeeding and during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Before taking any medication while pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first. You may want to review this article with your doctor and ask any questions you have. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Is Mucinex, Mucinex D, or Mucinex DM safe for me to take?
  • Which of these products would work best for my symptoms?
  • Am I taking any other medications that contain the same ingredients as Mucinex?
  • Are there other, non-drug ways to help relieve my symptoms?
  • Do I have any health problems that Mucinex could affect?

Your doctor can help you find relief from your symptoms while keeping your pregnancy or your child safe.

Note: There are many other forms of Mucinex not listed in this article, such as Maximum Strength Mucinex Fast-Max Severe Cold. Other forms may contain other medications, such as acetaminophen and phenylephrine. This article only addresses Mucinex, Mucinex D, and Mucinex DM. If you’d like to know about the effects of the other forms of Mucinex, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Q:

Do Mucinex, Mucinex D, or Mucinex DM contain alcohol?Anonymous patient

A:

No, they do not. In general, alcohol is only contained in liquid forms of cold medications. The Mucinex forms listed in this article all come in tablet form. During pregnancy or while breastfeeding, you should avoid taking any medication that contains alcohol. If you’re ever unsure if a drug you’re taking contains alcohol, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Why Can’t You Take Mucinex While Pregnant

When you are pregnant, your immune system doesn’t operate at maximum capacity, which is actually a good thing because it keeps your growing baby protected, and stops your body from thinking the fetus is an intruder. However, this comes with the downside that your body can’t ward off the viruses that cause the common cold quite as effectively. This can leave you vulnerable to the symptoms that come along, including a congested nose, cough, and sore throat. 

As we move into cold and flu season, you may find yourself coming down with a cold, and while you can rest assured that your baby isn’t experiencing any of them, you want to get rid of the symptoms quickly and safely. While colds are mostly an uncomfortable annoyance best managed by a little extra rest, fluids, and patience, you may find yourself seeking out cold medications to alleviate your symptoms. We recommend making a call to your OBGYN so they can steer you in the right direction in terms of cold medications that are considered safe during pregnancy. Here are our own recommendations on what to do if you get sick while pregnant.

Common cold symptoms during pregnancy

Generally, a cold will start with a sore or scratchy throat lasting about a day or two, followed by the gradual onset of other symptoms which may include:

  • Sneezing
  • Mild fatigue
  • A runny, then later stuffy nose
  • A dry cough, particularly as the cold is ending which may continue for a week or more after the other symptoms have mostly subsided
  • A low-grade fever typically under 100 degrees Fahrenheit

Cold symptoms usually last between 10 to 14 days. However, if your symptoms persist longer than that time frame or seem to progressively worsen, you should talk to your primary care physician so they can ensure it hasn’t turned into something more serious like an infection or the flu. 

Is it a cold or the flu?

The best way to tell the difference between a cold and the flu is to take account of the typical symptoms.

  • A cold is milder than the flu. Its symptoms come on gradually and typically you only run a low-grade to no fever. It generally starts off with a sore throat that goes away after a day or two, a cold ends with the main symptoms of a runny nose and cough.
  • Influenza, commonly called the flu, is more severe and the onset is more sudden than a cold. Symptoms include a high fever (typically 101-104 degrees F or higher), headache, chills, a sore throat that typically worsens by the second or third day, intense muscle soreness, and a general feeling of weakness and fatigue. These symptoms, along with sneezing and a cough, can last a couple of weeks or longer.

What to do if you get a cold while pregnant

Before turning to medicine, there are some effective cold remedies that don’t come from a pharmacy shelf. Here are ways to alleviate symptoms and feel better fast:

  • Keep eating: It’s common to not have much of an appetite when you have a cold but it is important to eat a healthy diet while you are sick and pregnant.
  • Rest: While this won’t necessarily shorten the duration of your cold, your body needs rest. Sleeping can prove to be a bit difficult when sick with a cold. Breathe easier by elevating your head with a few pillows. Nasal strips can also help as they gently pull your nasal passages open. They are easy to find, sold over the counter and are drug-free.
  • Stay active: If you can, do some light to moderate, pregnancy-safe exercises. It will help your body to fight off the cold faster.
  • Drink lots of fluids: Symptoms of colds like sneezing, runny nose, and fever causes your body to lose fluids that are essential to you and your baby. Warm beverages like tea with honey (which helps to suppress a dry cough) or hot soup with broth are soothing for your symptoms and cold water and juices work fine as well.
  • Eat foods with vitamin C: Foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, melon, kiwi, and red cabbage are packed with vitamin C which will help to boost your immune system.
  • Get more zinc: Pregnant women should try to get 11-15 milligrams of zinc each day, including the zinc in prenatal vitamins. Foods like turkey, beef, eggs, yogurt, wheat germ, oatmeal, and pork will also help to boost your immune system.
  • Use a humidifier: Dry conditions in your home can aggravate your symptoms so using a cold or warm air humidifier at night can really help. 
  • Use saline nose drops, rinses, and sprays.  All of these can help to moisten nasal passages, and they’re unmedicated, so they are safe for use while pregnant. We do recommend avoiding neti pots, however, as they can spread germs.
  • Gargle with warm salt water: Gargling with warm salt water can help to ease a scratchy throat and help control a cough.

Medications that are safe for pregnant women to take for a cold

Before reaching for the medications in your medicine cabinet, reach for the phone and call your OBGYN to discuss the recommended remedies you can take for a cold while pregnant. Here are cold medications that are generally safe during pregnancy.

Acetaminophen

Taking acetaminophen like Tylenol can help in the short-term to reduce head and body aches and break a fever.

Cough medicine

Expectorants like Mucinex, cough suppressants like Robitussin, vapor rubs like Vicks VapoRub, and cough drops are all considered safe during pregnancy. But again, make sure to consult your OBGYN about safe dosages.

Nasal sprays

Plain saline drops and sprays are safe and can help to moisturize and clear a stuffy nose. Most steroid-containing nasal sprays are also safe but you should check with your doctor about brands and dosing.

Antihistamines

Benadryl and Claritin are generally safe during pregnancy but, as usual, check with your doctor as some will advise against them during the first trimester.

Medications to avoid during pregnancy

Always check with your doctor or OBGYN before taking any medications – prescription, over-the-counter, or homeopathic – particularly the following. 

  • Pain relievers and fever reducers like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can cause pregnancy complications, particularly if taken during the third trimester.
  • Decongestants like Sudafed and DayQuil are generally cautioned against after the first trimester and only in a limited amount.
  • Avoid non-steroidal nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline.
  • Don’t take supplemental vitamins or herbal remedies without medical approval.

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