Sleep can be hard to obtain during pregnancy for a number of reasons, such as increased urination and bodily discomfort. After several nights without rest, a woman may want to try an over-the-counter or prescription sleep aid to get some relief. Not all medications are safe for use during pregnancy, due to the potential risk to the unborn baby. Women should always consult a physician before using any sleep medications, including those that have been labeled as safe for pregnant women.
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Several antihistamines are thought to be safe for use during pregnancy, according to BabyCenter.com. Some specific drug names include diphenhydramine, hydrochloride and doxyalamine. Drowsiness is a side effect of such antihistamine medications, meaning the primary effect of the drug has nothing to do with getting sleep. There are other potential side effects of antihistamines, including impaired alertness or dizziness. The label on such medications warns users to avoid driving or operating machinery after using the medication until the effect of the drug is identified.
Zolpidem is a prescription-strength medication that is considered to be a sedative and useful for short-term sleep assistance. Providence Health Services indicates this medication is considered to be a Class B drug for pregnancy, meaning it is presumed safe based on animal studies, but no well-controlled human studies have been completed.
Class C Drugs
Several other common prescription sleep aids are considered to be Class C drugs. Providence Health Services explains that this category means the safety of the drug during pregnancy is uncertain because data from animal studies has revealed a potential risk to the unborn fetus, but human studies have not yet been completed. Class C drugs should only be used if the risk to the mother going without sleep outweighs the potential risk to the unborn child. Examples of such drugs include zaleplon, eszopiclone and ramelteon.