Before reaching for the painkillers to help out with those pregnancy aches, you may have stopped to ask, can you take Advil while pregnant?
And you were right to pause.
In one of life’s greatest ironies, pregnancy both causes discomfort—and prevents you from taking medication that might provide relief.
Here’s the lowdown.
In this article: 📝
- Can you take Advil in early pregnancy?
- What happens if you take Advil while pregnant?
- What pain reliever can I take while pregnant?
Can you take Advil in early pregnancy?
The short answer is, unfortunately, no.
Here’s the warning from the horse’s mouth:
Unless directed by a doctor, Advil should not be taken during pregnancy.
Advil is a brand name for ibuprofen, which is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)—the most prescribed anti-pain medication in the world.
The way it works to ease your aches is by blocking a natural compound called prostaglandin that causes pain and swelling when you get injured or ill.
While Advil may be your painkiller of choice when you’re not pregnant, it’s, unfortunately, less than ideal when you are—particularly if you’re in your third trimester.
And that’s why the FDA warns against taking it.
(If you’re at an early stage of your pregnancy and you’ve taken some Advil, don’t worry: it’s unlikely to harm your baby.
But best to switch to a different painkiller in future—we discuss the options below.)
What happens if you take Advil while pregnant?
As this long-term study shows, NSAIDs may pose a significant risk to your baby’s health.
The medication can be passed on to them while they’re in your uterus and cause serious complications.
Important: If you’ve taken any Advil after 30 weeks of pregnancy, you should get in touch with your doctor right away so they can monitor your baby’s wellbeing more closely.
One of the major risks is the early closing of the ductus arteriosus.
This is an important blood vessel that is vital to your pregnancy, as it helps to get oxygen and nutrients to your baby.
If it closes early, your baby could be in danger.
Another issue that may occur is low levels of amniotic fluid.
(That’s the liquid that surrounds, nourishes and protects your baby while they’re in the womb.)
It can be dangerous if amniotic fluid is in short supply early in your pregnancy, because that’s when all your baby systems are developing.
Very low levels later on may get in the way of your baby’s growth and possibly cause umbilical cord constriction.
While the research is still ongoing, the use of Advil while pregnant may be connected to various health conditions, such as gastroschisis, spina bifida, and congenital heart defects.
There also appears to be a link to the development of cleft lip and palate, and, as this 2013 study tells us, a possible connection to the development of asthma.
And research is conflicting when it comes to a potential link between miscarriage and taking Advil.
Either way, it’s still best to avoid Advil during pregnancy because of the other risks involved.
The good news is that there are other ways to help you manage those pregnancy aches and pains—both with and without medication.
What pain reliever can I take while pregnant?
Can you take Aleve while pregnant?
How about Tylenol?
While it’s always best to check in with your doctor first, most pregnant women can take acetaminophen (Tylenol).
But it’s not without its hazards.
Unfortunately, Aleve is off-limits because it’s another NSAID.
And aspirin comes with its own risks, too.
Depending on what sort of pain you’re experiencing, some of these medication-free options might help:
- Prenatal massage. Heavenly. Head here for prenatal massage tips.
- Pregnancy pillow. A pillow made for pregnant bodies. Our favorite? This one by Sleepybelly—it’s adjustable to your body, supports your bump, back, and hips, and comes recommended by doulas, midwives, and osteopaths.
- Heating pads. (Yes, they’re allowed. Here’s how to use heating pads safely.)
- Ice packs. (just don’t put them directly on your skin)
- Prenatal yoga and light exercise. Here are some tips on prenatal yoga as well as some guidance on exercise while pregnant.
Take care of yourself, mama.
And if you need support over this time, reach out to your Peanut community.
Sharing the pain can make it easier to bear.
We hope you find relief soon.