Pregnancy

Can You Take Excedrin While Pregnant?

Team Peanut
Team Peanut7 months ago8 min read

Dealing with aches and pains during pregnancy is one thing. Migraines? C’mon! So what can you do about it? Can you take Excedrin while pregnant?

Can You Take Excedrin While Pregnant?

The quick answer is: it’s best to avoid most Excedrin products in the last trimester of your pregnancy. And before that, check in with your doctor first.

We’ll take you through the details.

Why you might need Excedrin during pregnancy

If you’ve struggled with migraines in the past, we don’t need to tell you that they are more than a serious headache.

Often accompanied by nausea and extreme sensitivity to light and sound, they can be very painful and disruptive to your life.

The good news is that, according to the American Migraine Foundation, between 50 and 80% of women who struggle with migraines actually have their symptoms ease off during pregnancy.

That might be because rising estrogen levels ward off those attacks.

But this reprieve is not the case for everyone.

Some women continue to have migraines throughout their pregnancies.

And some women who never had migraines before will start having them during pregnancy or just after.

So can Excedrin help you with a migraine during pregnancy? Let’s take a look.

In this article: 📝

  • Why you might need Excedrin during pregnancy
  • Is Excedrin safe during pregnancy?
  • Can you take Excedrin while pregnant in the 1st trimester?
  • Can you take Excedrin while pregnant in the 2nd trimester?
  • Which Excedrin is safe during pregnancy?
  • Can you take Excedrin while breastfeeding?
  • What can you take for a migraine while pregnant?

Is Excedrin safe during pregnancy?

Before taking any new medication during pregnancy, it’s important to talk to your doctor.

A doctor will help you determine if your headache is a migraine or something more serious.

For example, the symptoms of migraines can overlap with preeclampsia.

To see if Excedrin is a good choice for you, let’s look at the key ingredients in most Excedrin products – acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine – and whether they are safe for pregnancy.

All Excedrin products have at least one of these ingredients, and some have all three.

Acetaminophen.

Also known as paracetamol, or by the brand name Tylenol, acetaminophen is generally considered a safe option when it comes to pregnancy painkillers, provided it’s taken only when needed.

Aspirin

Aspirin and pregnancy have a complex relationship with one another.

If taken at a low dosage under the guidance of your doctor, there’s evidence that it can be helpful as a preventative treatment for preeclampsia.

But it’s certainly not without its risks.

Aspirin is a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID).

The FDA warns that the use of NSAIDs after 20 weeks can lead to rare kidney problems for some babies.

This in turn can lead to low amniotic fluid, which can cause complications for baby’s growth and development.

Plus, taking full-dose aspirin (such as Excedrin) in the third trimester of pregnancy can lead to the closing of the ductus arteriosus, an important blood vessel in your baby’s heart.

So that’s why it’s generally best to avoid products that contain aspirin after 20 weeks and to take it cautiously beforehand.

Caffeine

As long as it’s limited to 200 mg a day, caffeine is okay during pregnancy.

There’s about 130 mg of caffeine in the recommended dosage of Excedrin Extra Strength.











So if you do take an Excedrin product that contains caffeine, it’s important to consider what other caffeine sources you’re having that day.

You are probably fine having an Excedrin and a single shot of espresso or a caffeinated soda.

An 8 oz brewed coffee combined with Excedrin will generally put you over the limit.

(And, surprisingly, most Starbucks brewed coffees, even the tall sizes, are already in excess of your 200 mg a day!)

Put this all together, and here’s what your Excedrin pregnancy timeline might look like:

Can you take Excedrin while pregnant in the 1st trimester?

While it appears to be safer in the first trimester than in the third, it’s not without risk.

There’s some evidence that taking aspirin in the first trimester may be linked to an increased risk of a rare birth difference called [gastroschisis](https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/gastroschisis.html#:~:text=Gastroschisis%20(pronounced%20gas%2Dtroh%2D,body%2C%20exiting%20through%20the%20hole.), where the intestines are found outside of the baby’s body.

But if your migraines are severe, this risk might be worth it to you.

It’s best to have a chat with your doctor to see if Excedrin is the right choice for your first trimester migraines.

Can you take Excedrin while pregnant in the 2nd trimester?

The closer you get to the end of your pregnancy, the riskier Excedrin becomes.

Some Excedrin products may lead to health complications for your baby and increase the risk of excessive blood loss during delivery.

Again, the best thing to do is discuss your symptoms with your doctor to see if Excedrin is safe for you during your pregnancy.

Even if you took it during your first trimester, it’s a good idea to check in again with your doctor before taking it during the second or third trimesters.

Which Excedrin is safe during pregnancy?

The products on the market are:

  • Excedrin Extra Strength, for the temporary relief of minor aches and pains. This could be helpful if you have a headache, toothache, muscle aches, or a cold.
  • Excedrin Migraine, for, yep, migraines.

These two both contain acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine.

Particularly because they include aspirin, you should talk to your doctor before using them, and try to avoid taking them after 20 weeks.

Then there is:

  • Excedrin Tension Headache, for head, back, and shoulder pain from tension and stress. This is just acetaminophen and caffeine. Because it doesn’t include aspirin, it’s less risky, but should still be taken under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

And finally:

  • Excedrin PM Headache, which helps to relieve aches and pains and give you a good night’s sleep. It too contains acetaminophen and aspirin but also includes something called diphenhydramine citrate, which is an antihistamine. Diphenhydramine citrate can be okay to take during pregnancy in small doses, if, as the FDA says, the benefits outweigh the risks. And the same warning applies to the other ingredients.

So, bottom line? The safest of the Excedrin products is probably Excedrin Tension Headache, as it doesn’t contain aspirin.

But still, this path is better traveled with your doctor.

Can you take Excedrin while breastfeeding?

Sorry, mama, it’s best to avoid most Excedrin products while breastfeeding.

And, again, the culprit here is aspirin.

Aspirin can travel through your breastmilk to your baby.

In low doses, this doesn’t appear to pose much of a risk.

But there is a potential link between using aspirin while breastfeeding and Reye’s syndrome in children, a serious condition that can cause liver and brain damage.

So if it turns out Excedrin isn’t right for you, what can you take for your migraines while pregnant or breastfeeding?

What can you take for a migraine while pregnant?

We’ll say it again because it’s so important: If you are struggling with severe headaches or other aches and pains, the first thing to do is talk to your doctor.

Here are some remedies they might suggest:

Migraine medications like Sumatriptan may be helpful and are also safe to use during pregnancy.

And Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is generally considered to be a safe painkiller while pregnant.

Other things that might help you find relief?

A hot or cold pack, rest, and a pregnancy massage.

Some postural changes during pregnancy might also be causing your headaches, so consider having your posture evaluated by a physical therapist.

Look after yourself, mama. And if you need some support, reach out to your Peanut community.

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