Paracetamol is regarded by many as a safe and effective drug – but should pregnant women avoid taking paracetamol?
Many women avoid drugs of any kind during pregnancy, however some seek out treatments from over-the-counter painkillers to combat morning sickness.
So, is the usual ‘go-to’ painkiller paracetamol safe to use during pregnancy?
Here is what you need to know…
Can I take paracetamol when pregnant?
The NHS says women can take paracetamol as long as they use the ‘lowest effective dose for the shortest time possible’.
If the recommended dose of paracetamol fails to control or improve your symptoms or you’re in pain, you should seek advice from your midwife or GP.
However, they also contend that ‘ideally, you should avoid taking medicines when you’re pregnant, especially during the first three months’.
The NHS also recommends vising the site Bumps – Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy – for a full breakdown on taking paracetamol when pregnant, along with advice on further medicines.
Bumps also recommends that recommended that women who are pregnant ‘use the lowest dose of paracetamol that works, only for as long as needed.
They add that paracetamol has been used by pregnant women for many years ‘without any obvious harmful effects on the developing baby.’
Bumps also expresses that a number of studies show that women who took paracetamol during the first three months of pregnancy are ‘no more likely to have a baby with a birth defect than women who did not.’
That is why paracetamol is usually recommended as the first choice of painkiller for pregnant women.
Are there any paracetamol pills I should avoid when pregnant?
The NHS recommend that pregnant women have ‘no more than 200mg per day’ of caffeine, so it is best to avoid not take paracetamol pills containing caffeine (often used by people who feel sick but need to stay awake).
High levels of caffeine can result in babies having a low birth weight, which can increase the risk of health problems in later life.
Bumps also expresses that other painkillers sold over the counter without a prescription have not been shown to be any safer than paracetamol, but some are ‘not suitable for use during certain stages of pregnancy.’
As always, you should check with your GP, midwife or pharmacists before taking any medicine when you’re pregnant, including painkillers.
If you’re trying for a baby or are already pregnant, the NHS states that you should:
- Check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist before taking any prescribed medicines or medicines that you have bought
- Make sure your doctor, dentist or another healthcare professional knows you’re pregnant before they prescribe anything or give you treatment
- Talk to your doctor immediately if you take regular medicine, ideally before you start trying for a baby or as soon as you find out you’re pregnant
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