Can you take Mucinex while pregnant? And are there any other ways to relieve a stubborn cough?
The last thing you need is to be sick during pregnancy.
No matter if it’s allergies acting up, a cold that won’t quit, or bronchitis, a cough can be one of the most stubborn conditions to treat.
And a right pain in the… chest.
So how do you handle a cough while you’ve got a baby on board?
If you’re finding the world of common medications suddenly confusing, we’ve got your back.
Make yourself a hot drink, and we’ll look at the question of taking Mucinex while pregnant. 🍵
In this article 📝
- What is Mucinex?
- Is Mucinex safe during pregnancy?
- Can you take Mucinex while pregnant?
- Can taking Mucinex help you get pregnant?
- Some extra tips when taking cold meds while pregnant
- Home remedies for a cough
What is Mucinex?
Mucinex is a brand-name over-the-counter medicine that lots of people keep in the cabinet for when they feel congested.
It comes in different formulations and strengths, but the main active ingredients are:
- Guaifenesin, an expectorant. That’s the technical term for a drug that loosens mucus and makes it easier for you to get rid of it.
- Dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant. This drug is there to help ease that constant feeling of needing to cough.
No cough is fun, but dry coughs are the worse.
Unfortunately, Mucinex doesn’t actually help a dry cough or a scratchy throat, but it knows its way around a heavy, mucus-based cough.
That’s where active ingredient number three comes in:
- Pseudoephedrine, a decongestant. This is what narrows the blood vessels in your nasal passage and keeps stuffiness at bay. It’s also the ingredient of most concern for pregnancy as studies show a small association between pseudoephedrine and birth defects*.
*Note: We prefer the term ‘birth differences’. See our #RenamingRevolution Glossary.
Is Mucinex safe during pregnancy?
The answer is a little complicated.
The FDA has categories to describe how safe it is to take different medications during pregnancy.
The ingredients guaifenesin and dextromethorphan are both listed as category C.
Animal trials have shown that category C drugs affect fetal development, but the same effects haven’t been confirmed in humans due to the lack of adequate studies.
Often, the verdict on category C medications is this: if the benefit (i.e. finally being able to sleep without coughing yourself awake and/or avoiding a serious chest infection) outweighs the risk, it’s possible that your doctor would prescribe Mucinex during your pregnancy despite potential risks.
But in general, with category C, risk cannot be ruled out.
We simply don’t have enough data to say for sure that these ingredients in Mucinex are safe for mamas-to-be and their babies.
Can you take Mucinex while pregnant?
As with all cold and flu medications, like Mucinex, NyQuil, and Theraflu it’s important to ask your doctor directly before you take Mucinex during pregnancy.
This isn’t just because of the category C risk factor but also because there are so many different safer alternative products on pharmacy shelves.
It’s really important to take the correct dose and avoid certain ingredients.
While the guaifenesin and dextromethorphan in Mucinex are sometimes considered reasonably safe, that’s not such a straightforward case for pseudoephedrine.
It may be small, but there’s still more evidence to show that it can cause a higher rate of birth differences, especially if taken during the first trimester.
Your doctor or pharmacist will help you avoid medications that contain this ingredient.
Can taking Mucinex help you get pregnant?
The Mucinex method has popped up time and time again on TikTok TTC – enough to make members of the Peanut community wonder.
The theory is that Mucinex can thin cervical mucus, helping sperm move through the cervix easier and fast tracking you to motherhood.
This theory was founded by a single small flawed research project done 40 years ago.
It’s a logical argument, but experts say that there is insufficient evidence to prove OTC cough medicines like Mucinex does not improve fertility.
That’s not to say it harms your chances but it may not boost them as much as you’d hope.
Some extra tips when taking cold meds while pregnant
So it seems that no matter how pesky that chesty cough may be, it’s best to leave Mucinex on the shelf.
Here’s some helpful tips for navigating other cold meds while your Peanut is still growing:
Be careful with max strength versions of cold and flu medications because it can be far easier to take too much of these formulations.
Keep an extra eye on medications that contain acetaminophen. Acetaminophen (AKA paracetamol) is generally considered to be one of the safest drugs to take during pregnancy. But if you take two regular pills to treat your headache or fever, and then take a cold remedy that also contains acetaminophen, that might be too much for your liver to handle (the 24 hour max dose is 4 grams).
When it doubt about OTC medication, consult with the pharmacist to ensure you’re not taking any medicinal ingredients unnecessarily.
If you do decide to take any OTC cold medications, do so after speaking to your healthcare professional and follow their advice.
Home remedies for a cough
Rather not take the risk?
If your cough is mild and you’re only slightly congested, these home remedies can make a big difference:
- Stay hydrated: Drink lots of water and hot tea. Adding some honey and lemon can be extra soothing, and chamomile before bedtime might help you get to sleep. 🍯
- Take a hot shower: The steam will help to loosen the mucus in your lungs. 🚿
- Sleep with a humidifier: Placed beside your bed, it can stop your throat from feeling as sore during the night. 🌬
- Prop your mattress up: You can do this slightly with rolled towels or pillows so that mucus doesn’t settle in your chest. 🛌
- Do some gentle exercise: If you feel up to it. The fresh air and movement are both helpful. Bonus points if you can get the sun on your face for a little boost of vitamin D. ☀️
Some mamas-to-be opt for a flu shot, others are happy to stick to home remedies.
The choice is ultimately yours on how you wish to soothe any sickness during pregnancy.
Sometimes the benefits outweigh the risks, but we will always recommend speaking to your trusted doctor no matter what decision you make.
Get well soon, mama. ❤️