When women are pregnant, it is the most beautiful time of their lives. However, women may experience aches and pains. This discomfort is due to hormonal changes and a growing abdomen.
It’s only human nature to take the help of pain-relief medication to ease the discomfort. However, doctors advise pregnant women against taking pain medications as certain medications are unsafe during pregnancy.
This blog digs deep into the various pregnancy-safe pain medicines and their possible side effects.
What are the various pregnancy-safe painkillers?
The following are some of the medications safe for pregnant women.
Acetaminophen is the common over-the-counter pain medication recommended by doctors. It is the active ingredient in Tylenol. Doctors prescribe this for headaches, fever, aches, pains, and sore throat. It can be taken anytime throughout the pregnancy. Doctors may prescribe Acetaminophen as is or in combination with other medication. However, a pregnant woman should avoid it if it causes an allergic reaction or has liver issues, or the doctor does not recommend taking this medication.
It is important to note that Acetaminophen medication should be taken in moderation. Although it is not linked to miscarriage or congenital disability, the effect may be seen after birth. Research studies have shown that prolonged medication use (continuously for 28 days and more) has increased the risk of behavioural problems in childhood, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and autism.
2. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are also a safe choice for pregnant women. However, doctors recommend it only for up to 20 weeks. Also, doctors do not prescribe this medication during the last trimester as the blood vessels in the baby’s heart may close and increase the baby’s blood pressure.
Research studies show that using NSAIDs in early pregnancy may increase the chance of miscarriage. Some research also suggests that taking NSAIDs after 20 weeks may result in low amniotic fluid, thus leading to health complications in the fetus, including kidney, heart, gastrointestinal, and developmental problems.
However, more research is required to establish the cause of such health issues to NSAID.
3. Opioid Painkillers
Any strong prescribed medications are considered opioids – these are narcotics. Therefore, these medications are controlled substances and are considered illegal without a prescription from the healthcare provider. Opioids are only prescribed when the medical benefits are greater than the risks, such as intense pain due to injury, surgery, dental work, or severe migraine headaches during pregnancy.
These medications are rarely administered due to their risk of miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, and breathing problems in babies.
When a pregnant woman has several other medical issues during pregnancy, including preeclampsia, doctors prescribe aspirin. Several research studies prove that taking a low dose of aspirin daily after the 12th week of pregnancy ensures safe and effective prevention of complications for pregnant women at greater risk of preterm labour due to preeclampsia.
It is also important to note that aspirin decreases the risk of blood clots in pregnant women and increases the risk of significant bleeding. It is a concern during the later stages of pregnancy.
There are safe painkiller options for pregnant women, but some OTC and prescription medications may cause serious, even fatal, complications for women and their babies. Therefore, women must consult the doctor before taking any pain medication when they are pregnant.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
1. When should women not take Acetaminophen?
Women must avoid Acetaminophen if they are allergic to it, have liver problems, or if the doctor tells them it is not safe for them.
Even if the doctor tells women that it is safe to take Acetaminophen, they must take as little as they can for as short a time as possible. Acetaminophen is not linked to significant health problems such as miscarriage or birth defects. However, studies suggest that babies can later feel the effects.
2. When are NSAIDs not recommended for women?
NSAIDs are not recommended for women during the last three months of pregnancy since they may lead to a blood vessel in the baby’s heart closing before it should. If this happens, it can result in high blood pressure in the baby’s lungs. Taking NSAIDs can also make it challenging for women to go into labour or may lower the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby in the womb. For these reasons, women must only use NSAIDs under their doctor’s supervision to ensure no problems occur.
3. What are the risks of opioids for women during pregnancy?
If women take opioids during pregnancy, the baby is exposed to them and can become addicted. The baby will go through withdrawal from the opioids once they are born. This is known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). It can be severe and cause the baby to be too small or suffer breathing problems.