At any normal time, most of us wouldn’t think twice about taking a couple of paracetamol pills to soothe a headache.
The thing is, pregnancy is no normal time, is it? Suddenly, the most straightforward over-the-counter medications seem to come with major warnings.
But what about paracetamol? Can you take paracetamol when pregnant?
Take a breath. The answer here is almost always yes, as long as you don’t take too much or for too long.
So let’s break it down.
In this article: 📝
- Is paracetamol safe during pregnancy?
- What do we know about paracetamol in pregnancy?
- What are the risks of using paracetamol while pregnant?
- How much paracetamol is safe during pregnancy?
Is paracetamol safe during pregnancy?
The U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) has approved paracetamol during pregnancy for pain and fever relief (although they’re more likely to refer to it by the American term acetaminophen or the brand names Tylenol and Panado). The NHS in the UK has too.
So while you should always let your doctor know what medications you’re using, he or she will most likely tell you that paracetamol is fine.
In fact, if you need pain relief during your pregnancy, it’ll probably be the first thing they prescribe you.
As always during pregnancy, though, it’s a “yes, but…” The “but” part comes in because we don’t have enough evidence to rule all risks out completely.
Doctors often follow up the “yes” up with “in the smallest possible dose for the shortest possible time”.
What do we know about paracetamol in pregnancy?
The problem with paracetamol in pregnancy (and most other medications for that matter) is that it’s tricky, even unethical, to do proper randomized medical trials on pregnant women.
This is great from a safety perspective, but it does leave us guessing when it comes to knowing exactly how medications affect mamas and baba.
Luckily we’re not completely in the dark. Over many years, scientists have collected thousands of reports from pregnant women who used paracetamol during pregnancy and reported no problems.
What are the risks of using paracetamol while pregnant?
Some scientists (and we stress, some) say they have found a few low risks of using paracetamol during pregnancy.
While these sound scary, scientists also agree that it doesn’t take paracetamol off the table completely.
It’s worth noting that these studies often looked at long-term paracetamol use. So if you have chronic pain, it’s often best to talk to your doctor about what treatment is safest for you during pregnancy.
How much paracetamol is safe during pregnancy?
How many mg of paracetamol can you take when pregnant? The answer is: as little as possible to give you the relief you need, and always follow the instructions in the box.
Plus, being pregnant doesn’t make you immune to other common illnesses.
Leaving those untreated could also cause problems, not least the high blood pressure that comes with stress and anxiety.
So the bottom line? Limit your use of paracetamol if you can, but treat the pain when you need to.
And one more top tip: Be extra careful with max-strength versions of paracetamol, as it’s much easier to go over the maximum dose without realizing it. Medications that mix paracetamol with other ingredients such as decongestants or ibuprofen are also best to avoid, as these other medications are not as safe during pregnancy as paracetamol. Keep it simple, and you’ll be just fine.
If you’re curious about the experiences that other mamas-to-be have had using paracetamol, why not start a group on Peanut and see what other mamas have to say?
In the meantime, take care of yourself. You’ve got some precious cargo there, but you’re pretty precious too.
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