Paracetamol in pregnancy: Is it safe?

paracetamol in pregnancy

by Lorna White |
Published on

Whether you can feel a headache coming on or you suspect you're coming down with a pregnancy cold and want to treat it, there are a lot of reasons why you might want to take painkillers in pregnancy. In particular, taking paracetamol in pregnancy.

Paracetamol is a painkiller we're very used to taking on a regular basis to ease aches and pains like pregnancy back pain, but you might be wondering if it's safe to take paracetamol now you're pregnant.

Is paracetamol in pregnancy safe?

According to the NHS, taking paracetamol in pregnancy is perfectly safe. It has been used as a painkiller for pregnant women for many years without causing harm to mum or baby.

Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, is often recommended as a first choice painkiller for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as it's been proven to be the safest.

How much paracetamol is safe to take?

You should only ever take the normal dose of paracetamol and never exceed it. The NHS say the normal does is usually one or two 500mg tablets, every 4 hours up to 4 times in 24 hours with a maximum of 8 tablets in 24 hours. Ideally, you should only take the lowest dose that works for you for the shortest possible time.

If you're taking combination medicines, for example, you may be having some cold and flu medicines which contain paracetamol, always read the label and make sure you're not exceeding the dosage. Always check with your pharmacist when buying any painkillers and paracetamol how safe they are in pregnancy.

Are there any known risks to taking paracetamol when pregnant?

There has been no evidence found to increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, birth defects or small birth weight if taking paracetamol during pregnancy.

Although there have been a number of studies into the risks of taking paracetamol in pregnancy, scientists do not believe they provide convincing evidence that paracetamol in pregnancy is harmful.

If you've read any news reports on any of these studies into paracetamol, they can often sound quite worrying, but remember, these studies only suggest there may be some association and don't show that paracetamol actually causes any problems.

Before taking any paracetamol or painkillers, you should always check with your pharmacy if it's safe to take in pregnancy and if you're concerned, call your GP.

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