Which Painkillers Are Not Safe During Pregnancy


When it comes to pregnancy, safety is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, taking medications including painkillers may carry a risk. Even though some painkillers are deemed safe for use during pregnancy, there are still many that should be avoided to ensure the health and wellbeing of both mother and baby.

Real-life stories of risks associated with taking painkillers during pregnancy have surfaced in recent years, highlighting the personal experiences of why safety must come first. One alarming example occurred in 2017 when a pregnant woman died after taking too much paracetamol, a common over-the-counter medication available around the world used to provide relief from fever, headache and other minor aches and pains. While she had taken an amount considered safe throughout the course of her pregnancy, it was still enough to cause her death due to stress on her body caused by the elevated levels found at autopsy. Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident; many women have had adverse reactions due to incorrect or excessive prescription of painkillers during their pregnancies.

Whether prescribed over-the-counter or by a doctor or midwife, different medications can have drastically different effects on people depending on their individual chemistry which makes it difficult to even know what might be permissible for each individual case without consulting medical professionals thoroughly. That being said, generally speaking there are certain painkillers that must never be taken during pregnancy such as aspirin and ibuprofen (also known as Motrin) due to the potential lifelong harm these brands can have on developing fetuses if taken regularly throughout gestation. Even acetaminophen (Tylenol) should only be taken occasionally and in small amounts as excesses can lead to medical problems with both mother and baby postpartum.

Ultimately, while some small amounts of specific medications may become necessary during pregnancy it is important to always consult medical professionals before taking anything that has not been specifically recommended for use during gestation; Safety must always come first when carrying a child so before making any decisions take into consideration unintended harm that could be caused by any medication consumed before birth.

The Types of Painkillers Primarily Used During Pregnancy

NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin are commonly used painkillers during pregnancy, but they should be avoided. This is because these types of drugs can cross the placenta, potentially causing problems such as stomach ulcers or impaired fetal development.

Acetaminophen: On the other hand, acetaminophen is generally considered safe to use during pregnancy as it has not been shown to cause adverse effects in humans at recommended doses. However, women should talk to their doctor before taking any medications. Some studies have indicated that taking high doses of acetaminophen for a long period of time may increase the risk for certain birth defects or complications. It’s best to take only the dose prescribed by your healthcare provider and avoid combining multiple pain relievers when possible.

Opioids: Any opioid medication such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone and even morphine can be dangerous when taken during pregnancy because they are highly addictive and may cause withdrawal symptoms in newborns after birth. In some cases, these drugs can also cause preterm labor or newborn breathing difficulties. Women who take opioids while pregnant need to practice extreme caution due to an increased risk of addiction and overdose in both the mother and baby.

Herbal Medicines: Herbal medicines are widely used among pregnant women to treat pain or discomfort. While some herbs like ginger and chamomile may be beneficial for nausea relief or relaxation purposes, others like echinacea and goldenseal should be avoided as they may negatively affect organ system development in fetuses. As with any medication or supplement taken during pregnancy, it is important that women consult with a doctor prior to use so potential risks can be minimized.

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The Risks of Taking Painkillers During Pregnancy

Taking any type of medication while pregnant carries potential risks and should be discussed with a healthcare professional before use. Painkillers, or analgesics, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are prescribed for various conditions during pregnancy, however none should be taken without consulting a doctor first.

Despite the fact that many doctors consider acetaminophen to be safe to use during pregnancy, there is evidence to suggest that its frequent use can reduce the amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus, increasing the risk of umbilical cord compression and Preterm Labor. In addition, high doses of this painkiller have been found to contribute to kidney damage. For these reasons, it is best avoided altogether when it is not absolutely necessary to take it.

Ibuprofen and naproxen have also been linked to developmental health issues including Anencephaly – a condition in which the baby’s brain grows abnormally — as well as liver damage in pregnant women. While studies into these effects are limited, there is evidence to suggest that their frequent use could increase the risk of premature births at minimum. Therefore, expecting mothers should avoid taking any type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug unless prescribed by a doctor.

Aspirin is not recommended at all during pregnancy due to concern around increased risk of bleeding during delivery and affect on fetal development. Studies into this issue indicate that low-dose aspirin may increase the risk of birth defects and miscarriage in early stages of pregnancy; it is therefore important for expecting mothers to consult their doctor if ever considering taking aspirin for any other reason than pain relief during their pregnancy.

Common Painkillers to Avoid During Pregnancy

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Cerutralgin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Aspirin are all examples of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which should be avoided during pregnancy. These medications can cause harm to the developing baby by increasing the risk of premature closure of the ductus arteriosus – a blood vessel that runs between the pulmonary artery and aorta and is crucial for blood circulation of foetuses before birth. NSAIDS can also increase the chances of placental abruption, maternal or fetal bleeding problems, umbilical cord complications, placental insufficiency and low amniotic fluid levels.

Opioids: Codeine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone and Tramadol may be prescribed in some circumstances but should be avoided wherever possible in early pregnancy due to potential risks. Opiates have been seen to increase the risk of miscarriage and preterm labor associated with short term use of even small dose opioids.

Acetaminophen: Acetaminophen is generally considered safe during pregnancy when taken as directed on the package. However, a single large dose can cause fetal poisonings in some cases so care should always be taken to ensure an appropriate dosage is taken at regular intervals throughout the day if needed for pain relief.

Herbal Supplements: Many herbs such as ginger, cayenne pepper and turmeric have natural pain relieving properties but should not be consumed during pregnancy under any circumstance as there is limited evidence on their safety for pregnant women. The same applies to certain over-the-counter supplements such as omega 3 fatty acids which although believed to help reduce pain in some people may also pose risks when taken in high dosages or during sensitive times such as early pregnancy.

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What to Do if You Have Taken a Painkiller During Pregnancy

It is important to take the proper steps if you have taken a painkiller while pregnant. First, you should inform your doctor as soon as possible. They will be able to determine if there is any immediate cause for concern and provide advice on any necessary follow up care.

Your doctor may require that you receive extra monitoring throughout the remainder of your pregnancy, such as ultrasounds to detect potential health concerns. You should comply with all medical advice given to avoid any further complications or problems with your baby’s health.

You may also need to discuss alternative treatments with your doctor in order to manage any underlying pain or discomfort. Non-pharmacological therapies such as massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, exercise, and stretching can all be safe and effective methods for managing pain during pregnancy when done in moderation. Dietary changes may also need to be evaluated and adjusted in order to ensure optimal vitamin and mineral intake as well as overall improved health.

Finally, it is essential that you practice good nutrition during pregnancy no matter what type of medication or therapies you use for managing pain. Proper nutrition helps support both physical and mental health during this sensitive time and can assist in promoting a positive overall outcome for both your baby and yourself .

Pain Relief Alternatives to Painkillers During Pregnancy

Non-medicinal methods of pain relief during pregnancy can offer safe alternatives to using painkillers. This can include utilizing lifestyle steps, such as maintaining good posture or gently stretching. Regular exercise and physical activity can help reduce aches, pains, and inflammation associated with pregnancy. Hot or cold compresses, massage therapy or acupuncture may also provide relief for some pregnant women. Additionally, engaging in relaxation exercises like meditation and calming breath work have been found to be helpful for managing some types of natural body pains caused by pregnancy.

It is important to discuss these options with your doctor before starting any kind of new treatment regimen while you are pregnant. Your health care provider will be able to determine if any non-medicinal intervention is safe and appropriate given your individual health status and is able to offer guidance throughout each step of the way.


It is important to remember that different painkillers can have varying effects on pregnant women. Certain medications may not be safe for women who are expecting, so it is essential to always consult with a doctor beforehand and follow their instructions closely before taking any medication while pregnant. It’s also important to look at the instruction label of any prescriptions and over-the-counter painkillers for safety advice when it comes to pregnancy. The potential risks associated with these drugs can range from harm to the unborn baby, birth defects, and even problems during labor or delivery. By understanding the facts and consulting a doctor, expecting mothers can ensure that they are taking the right medications when managing pain during pregnancy. Taking steps to understand the risks will provide expectant mothers with peace of mind while they prepare for their new arrival.

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