Safe Pain Relief During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know About Taking Painkillers While Pregnant

Zoie Health’s resident GP, Dr Caitlin Parker tells us all we need to know about taking painkillers during pregnancy.

Pregnancy can be a rollercoaster of experiences, and one common issue many expectant moms face is figuring out how to safely manage pain and discomfort. It’s natural to want to make sure that any medicine taken during this special time is both effective and safe for your baby.


One challenge with medications during pregnancy is the lack of extensive research. Testing drugs on pregnant or breastfeeding women is rare due to the possible risks involved. So, doctors often need to carefully consider the potential benefits of a medicine against any risks it might carry.

Now, let’s explore the options for pain relief during pregnancy.

Paracetamol: A Preferred Choice

Paracetamol is often the first choice for pain relief during pregnancy. It works by calming pain signals in the body and brain. It’s great for common pains like headaches or muscle aches and is available in many forms, including tablets, liquid, and even fizzy tablets.

It’s important to use paracetamol as directed, especially if you have liver issues. Also, taking too much can be harmful.


NSAIDs: Use With Caution During Pregnancy

NSAIDs, which include common drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen, help reduce pain by controlling inflammation. However, these drugs can affect important processes in foetal development, especially regarding certain blood vessels in the baby. This means they might be risky, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. Generally, it’s best to avoid NSAIDs while pregnant, unless your doctor advises otherwise for specific reasons.

Aspirin and Opioids: Think Carefully

Aspirin is another pain reliever that falls into the NSAID category. Sometimes, in low doses and for certain conditions, doctors might prescribe it during pregnancy. But, like NSAIDs, it’s better to use it only if your doctor recommends it.

Opioids are strong pain relievers but come with significant risks, like addiction and serious side effects. They are usually a last resort for severe pain during pregnancy and should always be used under a doctor’s supervision. The risks associated with opioids are higher in the later stages of pregnancy.

Combination Painkillers: Be Mindful

Many over-the-counter painkillers combine different types of pain relief in one pill. While this can be more convenient, it’s crucial to understand what’s in these combination drugs to avoid accidentally taking too much, especially if you’re also taking other medicines like cold or flu remedies.

Alternatives to Medicine

Besides medication, practices like breathing exercises and mindfulness can also help manage pain and stress during pregnancy in a safe way.

In Summary

Paracetamol is generally the safest option for pain relief during pregnancy and breastfeeding. But it’s always best to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any medicine. They can help you choose the safest and most effective options for your particular stage of pregnancy and health needs.

Remember, we at Zoie are here to support you throughout your pregnancy. If you’re in pain and home remedies aren’t helping, or if you have any worries, please get in touch with us for personalized advice.

Medical Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information provided herein, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material, is general in nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

For any questions, queries or concerns, please contact Dr Caitlin at

Sources: Dr Caitlin Parker.

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