No one wants to get sick during pregnancy. And whether it’s caused by allergies, a cold, or bronchitis, a cough can be one of the most stubborn conditions to treat.
So what are you supposed to do about a cough while you’ve got a baby on board? Are the most common medications safe for you to take right now?
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?
- So can I take Mucinex while pregnant?
- How much Mucinex is safe during pregnancy?
- 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.
Is Mucinex safe during pregnancy?
If you’re wondering, ‘Can I take Mucinex while pregnant?’ the answer is a little complicated.
The FDA has categories to describe how safe it is to take different medications during pregnancy.
The ingredients above – guaifenesin and dextromethorphan – are both listed as category C.
This means there’s good news and bad news when it comes to the question: ‘Does Mucinex cause birth defects?’
(Note: We prefer the term ‘birth differences’, though. See our #RenamingRevolution Glossary.)
The bad news is that animal trials have shown that category C drugs affect fetal development.
The good news is that the same effects haven’t been observed in humans.
But, unfortunately, the bottom line is that we simply don’t have enough data to say for sure that the active ingredients in Mucinex are safe for mamas-to-be and their babies.
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.
So can I take Mucinex while pregnant?
As with all cold and flu medications, it’s important to ask your doctor directly before you take Mucinex during pregnancy.
This isn’t just because of the category C risk, but also because there are so many different 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 the case for the common decongestant (a drug that helps unblock your nose), phenylephrine.
With this medication, there’s more evidence to show that it can cause a higher rate of birth differences, especially if it’s taken during the first trimester.
Your doctor or pharmacist will help you avoid medications that contain this ingredient.
How much Mucinex is safe during pregnancy?
The recommended dose of Mucinex for pregnant women isn’t different from the recommended dose for other adults.
But you might prefer to take the smallest dose you can for the shortest possible time.
Some extra tips when taking cold meds:
- Mucinex doesn’t help a dry cough or a scratchy throat. If this is your problem, see some of our other tips below.
- 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’s too much for your liver to handle.
Home remedies for a cough
If your cough is mild and you’re only slightly congested, these home remedies can make a big difference:
- Stay hydrated by drinking 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 because the steam will help to loosen the mucus in your lungs.
- Sleep with a humidifier beside your bed to stop your throat from feeling as sore during the night.
- Prop your mattress up 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.
Get well soon, mama.
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