Many Robitussin products on the market contain either one or both of the active ingredients dextromethorphan and guaifenesin. These ingredients treat symptoms related to cough and cold.

Guaifenesin is an expectorant. It helps thin secretions from your lungs and loosen phlegm (mucus). This helps make your coughs more productive. A productive cough will help bring up the mucus that is causing chest congestion. This helps clear your airways. The other ingredient, dextromethorphan, helps control how often you cough.

Because dextromethorphan and guaifenesin are over-the-counter drugs, they don’t have an official pregnancy category rating. Still, there are some considerations for you if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and thinking of using a product that contains these active ingredients.

Dextromethorphan and guaifenesin both appear to be safe to use during pregnancy. However, many liquid cough medications that contain these ingredients also contain alcohol. You shouldn’t consume alcohol during pregnancy because it can cause birth defects. Ask your pharmacist to help you find an alcohol-free cough medication that is right for you.

Dextromethorphan and guaifenesin are not known to cause many side effects, but they can cause:

  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • rash, in rare cases

Dextromethorphan may also cause constipation. Many of these side effects are similar to symptoms of morning sickness and may add to them if you already experience morning sickness.

There are no specific studies regarding the use of dextromethorphan or guaifenesin while breastfeeding. Dextromethorphan likely passes into breastmilk, though. Try to avoid taking it if you are breastfeeding. And if the Robitussin product you’re considering contains alcohol, avoid breastfeeding if you take it. Alcohol can be passed through breastmilk and affect your child.

The use of Robitussin products that contain dextromethorphan or guaifenesin haven’t been studied in pregnancy or during breastfeeding. However, both of these ingredients are believed to be safe to take during these times. You should still consider the possible side effects and how that may affect what you are already experiencing during pregnancy. You should also note the inactive ingredients in some of these products, such as alcohol, and how they may affect pregnancy and breastfeeding. If you are unsure, the best option is to discuss your concerns with your doctor. Other questions you may want to ask include:

  • Is this safe to take with my other medications?
  • How long should I take Robitussin?
  • What should I do if my cough does not improve after using Robitussin?