Can You Take Ibuprofen While Pregnant?

Can You Take Ibuprofen While Pregnant?

Your head is pounding as if there’s construction going on in your brain.

Your limbs ache.

Your lower back aches.

Your groin aches.

You’re about to reach for the meds when it dawns on you: can you take ibuprofen while pregnant?

And if not, what will give these aches and pains their marching orders, even if only for a little while?

So, can pregnant women take ibuprofen? Let’s explore.

In this article: 📝

  • Is ibuprofen safe for pregnancy?
  • What happens if you take ibuprofen while pregnant?
  • Side effects of taking ibuprofen while pregnant
  • How much ibuprofen is safe during pregnancy?
  • What pain reliever can I take while pregnant?

Is ibuprofen safe for pregnancy?

Can I take ibuprofen while pregnant?

If you’re here for the short answer, it’s no.

It’s best to steer clear of ibuprofen during pregnancy—as well as any other drugs that have ibuprofen as an active ingredient.

That means Advil and Motrin are both no-gos.

Why can’t you take ibuprofen while pregnant?

Ibuprofen belongs to a class of medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

The job of NSAIDs is to relieve fever and inflammation.

They do this by blocking enzymes (called Cox-1 and Cox-2) that make prostaglandins (the chemicals that respond to injury and infection by producing pain and inflammation).

Fewer prostaglandins = less pain and discomfort for you.

But when it comes to ibuprofen and pregnancy, the risks can outweigh the benefits.

What happens if you take ibuprofen while pregnant?

Taking ibuprofen while pregnant (at any stage) might have potentially detrimental effects.

Risks of complications, such as cleft palate, spina bifida, and heart, lung, and digestive issues, are all reported to be higher.

At 30 weeks and beyond, the danger from taking ibuprofen during pregnancy is likely at its greatest.

One of the big worries is that ibuprofen during pregnancy increases the risk of the premature closing of a fetal blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus.

This vessel allows blood to flow away from the lungs (pulmonary artery) and into the body (aorta) and usually closes naturally after your baby is born.

If it closes prematurely, your baby might be at risk of heart failure and even death.

As this study tells us, the use of ibuprofen while pregnant appears to increase this risk of closure by about five times.

Added to this, the FDA warns against the use of ibuprofen while pregnant after 20 weeks because they may cause “rare but serious kidney problems in an unborn baby”.

At this point in your pregnancy, your baby’s kidneys produce urine that makes up a fair amount of the amniotic fluid (that’s the liquid that surrounds, nourishes, and protects your baby during pregnancy).

Kidney issues can lead to low amniotic fluid.

This can be a problem because amniotic fluid helps with the development of all sorts of other systems in your baby’s body.

Can I take ibuprofen in first trimester?

So, can you take ibuprofen while pregnant first trimester?

Well, the research into ibuprofen and pregnancy early on is still ongoing—but, as this study tells us, taking ibuprofen during pregnancy may have effects on the development of your baby even as early as the first few weeks.

Can ibuprofen cause miscarriage at 3 week?

Well, we’re not sure ‒ there aren’t enough studies done to make a direct connection between early pregnancy loss and ibuprofen, even at 3 weeks pregnant.

However, according to research by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, taking ibuprofen during pregnancy in the first 20 weeks can increase the chances of pregnancy loss by 2.4 times.

Can you take ibuprofen when 4 weeks pregnant?

No, it’s not recommended to mix ibuprofen and pregnancy in the first 4 weeks ‒ there are potential risks of miscarriage, birth differences, and premature birth.

So it’s best to completely stay off the ibuprofen while pregnant.

Can I take ibuprofen in pregnancy second trimester?

What about ibuprofen in pregnancy second trimester?

Well, it’s still not advised to take ibuprofen while pregnant, even into your second or third trimesters.

This is because baby’s kidney, while it’s developing, can absorb your ibuprofen while you’re pregnant, which, for baby’s tiny kidneys who cannot handle adult ibuprofen doses, can cause problems at birth or later on.

Side effects of taking ibuprofen while pregnant

So are there any side effects to you if you choose to take ibuprofen while pregnant?

Generally speaking, no ‒ the risks of taking ibuprofen during pregnancy are primarily to your baby.

However, if you have any of the following, it’s advised to steer clear of ibuprofen while pregnant or even outside of your pregnancy:

  • Preexisting heart conditions
  • Stomach ulcer
  • History of bad reactions to aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Liver issues
  • You’re already taking ibuprofen or aspirin as prescribed by your doctor

But if you’re ever in doubt about any medication, whether you’re pregnant or not, it’s always best to speak with your doctor.

How much ibuprofen is safe during pregnancy?

While it’s best to use other pain relief options, if you’ve already taken ibuprofen while pregnant, you should be fine.

Just make sure not to take anymore.

In fact, as this study states, up to 28.3% of pregnant women reported the use of ibuprofen during pregnancy.

One issue is that many mamas-to-be don’t even know they’re pregnant in the first few weeks of the first trimester.

Basically, we do what we can with the information we have when we have it.

If you’re feeling worried about whether you’ve taken ibuprofen while pregnant, reach out to your healthcare provider.

I took 2 ibuprofen while pregnant, what does that mean?

Taking one dose of ibuprofen while pregnant isn’t likely to cause any damage to your baby, so try not to fret.

However, if you notice any other pain (other than the pain for which you’re taking ibuprofen while pregnant), particularly around your abdomen, or you see any pregnancy bleeding, reach out to your doctor asap.

I took 4 ibuprofen while pregnant, is baby at risk?

It depends ‒ if you take 4 ibuprofen while pregnant at the same time, that could potentially put baby at risk of harm, particularly to their kidneys if you’re past 20 weeks.

However, taking 4 ibuprofen over a few days or a week isn’t likely to cause any harm to your baby.

Generally speaking, it’s taking ibuprofen regularly during pregnancy that can cause potential issues, although it’s best to stay away from it altogether until baby’s in your arms.

What pain reliever can I take while pregnant?

If you need pain meds, acetaminophen is a better option than ibuprofen while pregnant (that doesn’t mean it’s risk-free—no medicine is—but it is much, much safer).

Steer clear of aspirin and naproxen.

They are also NSAIDs and so are in the same risk category as ibuprofen.

And then, it may also help to explore other options to minimize pregnancy pain:

  • Blow hot and cold. 🔥 ❄️ Alternating hot and cold compresses can work wonders.
  • Hit the full-body sack. 🛏️ Body pillows are pretty great because they support your whole body and help reduce pain in several areas all at once.
  • The magic touch. 💆🏽 Pregnancy massage can be an ideal way to relieve stress, pain, and discomfort.
  • Get your stretch on. 🧘🏽 If it’s your jam, prenatal yoga is a great method for getting the kinks out and putting your mind at ease.
  • Soak. 🛀 An Epsom salt bath can help soothe aching muscles.

Now you know the answer to the question, can you take ibuprofen while pregnant, feel free to check out our other articles on medication during pregnancy.

Good luck, mama.


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