Acetaminophen During Pregnancy

How safe is acetaminophen during pregnancy?

Pregnancy discomfort is bound to increase as your body grows with your baby, and sometimes you can overcome it with some rest and relaxation. However, there are cases -- a bad headache, extreme joint pain or fever -- where you may be tempted to turn to medication for relief. Many women need something stronger than mental exercises for pelvic, leg or back pain relief during pregnancy, and taking some medicine is fine as long as it's the right kind. Find out what makes acetaminophen different than other pain medication and how much is safe to take during pregnancy.

Taking Painkillers While Pregnant

Expectant mothers are no strangers to aches and pains, and when they get to be too much to ignore, it's natural to reach for a painkiller. But is that ever a good idea when you're pregnant? You've likely heard about all the terrible things that can harm your unborn baby, from sushi to x rays, and it can be difficult to keep on top of what's safe and what's not. Luckily, there are pain relief options that are safe to use during pregnancy, but there are also some that are more dangerous than they seem.

Although a pharmacy may stock a variety of painkillers on the same shelf, not all pain relief is created equal when you're expecting. Prescription pain relief generally carries the highest risk of birth defects, as it is the most potent. However, everyday anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin can be damaging as well: salicylic acid (the active ingredient in aspirin) can lead to heavy bleeding during pregnancy and health problems for both mother and baby, as can ibuprofen (found in Advil or Motrin) if it's taken in the third trimester. However, acetaminophen-based pain relievers like Tylenol are a different story.

Acetaminophen during Pregnancy

Acetaminophen is an analgesic (pain reliever) and an antipyretic (fever reducer), which means it increases the body's pain threshold and acts on the heat-regulating center of the brain to bring down body temperature. The good news is that it's the preferred form of pain and fever relief during all stages of pregnancy, and experts agree that sticking to the suggested amounts won't harm your baby one bit.

The only acetaminophen danger comes with an exceptionally high dose, which can lead to liver damage for you and your baby. Medical professionals agree that neither the regular or extra strength versions are dangerous, but read the label closely, and remember that first-hand advice from your doctor overrides the back of the box. Also, stay away from acetaminophen spin-offs, like those designed to treat a cold or flu: these multi-symptom relievers will include other types of drugs, some of which could have very harmful effects on your pregnancy.