Pregnant women should be cautious about using any medication during pregnancy. When a pregnant woman feels she needs to take something for aches, pain or fever, she must consider the risks of the medications, and should also try some alternative pain remedies prior to taking any medication. Pregnant women should avoid any medication they haven’t cleared with their prenatal doctor.
Aspirin during pregnancy
Aspirin increases bleeding time because it thins the blood. Aspirin also suppresses the production of prostaglandins which can be dangerous for your baby. In specific situations, a pregnant woman may be advised to take a low dose of aspirin. This should only be done under the instruction of your prenatal care provider. The effects of a single dose of aspirin can last up to a week. Also avoid white willow bark, as this is the natural form of aspirin.
Tylenol or acetaminophen during pregnancy
Tylenol is considered mostly safe, but may affect kidney development or cause kidney disease if overused. Most prenatal care providers will recommend Tylenol for pain relief or fever reduction. Moderate use of acetaminophen is believed safe, but do not exceed the recommended dose.
Ibuprofen or Advil during pregnancy
Advil and ibuprofen are usually considered safe for the first several months of pregnancy. Ibuprofen does thin the blood, so it should be avoided in the third trimester. Ibuprofen may also cause spontaneous abortions, and should be avoided if you are trying to conceive. Ibuprofen has also been shown in some studies to reduce the amount of amniotic fluid. These effects were reversed once the ibuprofen was no longer in use. Pregnant women are better off avoiding taking ibuprofen if at all possible until more is learned.
Alternative pain relief during pregnancy
Before taking any pain relief medication, try these alternatives. Practice relaxation techniques like those you will be using when you’re in labor. Meditate, take a warm (not hot!) bath, drink more water, and have someone give you a massage. Care should be taken when getting a massage while pregnant. Some pressure points may begin contractions. Drinking more water can help with muscle aches and headaches. You can also use a heating pad to relax stiff or sore muscles.
Always talk to your prenatal care giver before taking pain medication. If the doctor okays your medication, try to stick with the lowest dose that is effective for relieving your pain. These medicines can cross the placenta to your baby, and there is no proof that they are safe in any amount. Medications your doctor tells you not to take have usually been proven potentially harmful to your baby. Also mention to your prenatal caregiver if you plan to use any herbal remedies, as some of these may interact with your other medication or be known to cause problems in fetal development.
Simkin, Penny, P.T, Janet Whalley, R.N., B.S.N., Ann Kepler, R.N., M.N. Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn-The Complete Guide. Minnetonka, MN: Meadowbrook Press