Ibuprofen and Pregnancy: Risks and Alternatives

Taking ibuprofen while pregnant can put the development of the growing baby at risk. There are other options that are less aggressive towards the fetus.
Ibuprofen and Pregnancy: Risks and Alternatives

Last update: 22 July, 2018

What precautions do you need to keep in mind while pregnant? What do you need to know about ibuprofen and pregnancy? Continue reading to find out more.

During the months of pregnancy, women need to be especially careful about their intake of medications. There are certain medications, such as ibuprofen, that can have dangerous side effects for babies.

Ibuprofen is a common medication that you can find in the medicine cabinet of almost every home. It relieves pain such as swelling, and is often recommended for muscle pain, headaches and arthritis.                 

Ibuprofen was discovered and patented in 1961 as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Today, it’s a common component in anti-inflammatory medications and even in cold medicines.

Ibuprofen and pregnancy: Why you shouldn’t take it

If you’re experiencing any kind of pain or discomfort while pregnant, you should never reach for ibuprofen for relief.

Medical professionals don’t recommend ibuprofen during pregnancy because of the risks it poses for the fetus. Furthermore, it’s best not to cover up symptoms that can be warning signs regarding the mother’s overall health.

ibuprofen and pregnancy

Risks of ibuprofen for babies

According to studies, taking ibuprofen during the first trimester of pregnancy can have the following consequences:

  • Risk of suffering a miscarriage
  • Heart defects and other anomalies, such as cleft lip and cleft palate
  • Gastroschisis, a birth defect where the intestines extend outside of the baby’s abdomen through a hole next to the belly button

During the first two trimesters of gestation, you shouldn’t take ibuprofen due to the above mentioned risks. However, in cases where ibuprofen is necessary, a doctor may prescribe a minimal dosage.

During the final trimester of pregnancy, women shouldn’t take ibuprofen under any circumstance.

Risks of taking ibuprofen during the last months of pregnancy

If a woman takes ibuprofen during the last trimester of pregnancy, she places her child at risk of the following serious consequences:

  • Decrease in the volume of amniotic liquid and, therefore, a delay in birth.
  • Problems with the development of the baby’s lungs.
  • Cardiac malformations. Ibuprofen can block the arteries of the heart and have serious consequences on the fetus.

No matter at what point of pregnancy a mother takes ibuprofen, it always increases the risk of miscarriage. Therefore, it’s best not to take ibuprofen, but rather consult with a trusted doctor.

Ibuprofen before pregnancy

Besides the risks that ibuprofen poses to unborn children, taking ibuprofen can also cause problems prior to pregnancy .

Ibuprofen reduces the production of prostaglandin, a substance that is fundamental in the process of ovulation. Prostaglandins also help the embryo attach to the uterine walls.

What can I take instead of ibuprofen?

There are certain medications that can replace ibuprofen. As always, you should check with a specialist before taking any medication while pregnant.

  • Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen. In recommended doses, paracetamol is considered safe for reducing pain in pregnant women. However, it’s best to avoid taking any medication during pregnancy, or take only when truly necessary.
  • Cough drops. If you’re experiencing pain or scratchiness in your throat, cough drops are a good alternative that don’t harm the fetus.
  • Antacids. Heartburn is a common issue during pregnancy, and many women take antacids to prevent it. Remember, you should talk with your doctor beforehand to make sure the antacids are derived from magnesium and aluminum.
ibuprofen and pregnancy

Go natural

Even if you don’t have the habit of looking for natural remedies, this is a great option during pregnancy. Infusions with lime, lemon or ginger are great allies for cold relief. You can also try honey, thyme and bay leaf.

If you’re suffering from back pain, then a massage and heat on the area will help. You can also opt to wear a belly band for extra support, and perform stretching exercises.

More suggestions

It’s always best to avoid taking any type of medication during pregnancy. Ibuprofen is especially dangerous because of the health risk it poses on unborn babies.

However, there are medications that pregnant women can take without any major risks. But you should only take them under doctor’s orders and only as needed.

During pregnancy, if a mother experiences pain that requires treatment, it’s important not to self-medicate. You should always see a specialist before taking any prescription or over-the-counter drugs. In any case, read the indications on the bottle and never forget to check out safer, more natural options.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.