Can You Take Paracetamol When Pregnant?

Can You Take Paracetamol When Pregnant?

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?

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 (usually called acetaminophen or brand names like Tylenol and Panadol).

The NHS in the UK has, too.

In fact, paracetamol is used by more than 50% of women worldwide during pregnancy, with headache being the most frequent reason they’re reaching for the Tylenol.

So while you should always let your doctor know what medications you’re using, they 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.

One study found a higher chance of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children whose moms took paracetamol during pregnancy.

Another found a low risk of asthma.

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.

But for a headache or a slight fever while you’re dealing with a cold?

The risks are really, really small.

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.

Most mamas-to-be go through uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms at some stage, whether it’s first trimester headaches and muscle cramps, or pelvic pain as you get closer to your due date.

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.

Bottom line? Limit your use of paracetamol if you can, but treat the pain when you need to.

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.

As the UK NHS recommends, 1-2 tablets of paracetamol (totalling about 500mg) are recommended every 4 hours, with a maximum of 8 tablets in 24 hours.

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 or other pain meds like Advil, you can always ask the other moms-to-be of Peanut to see what they 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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