Can I take paracetamol when I'm pregnant?

If you're pregnant and feel you need to take painkillers, paracetamol is usually safe to take. However, before taking any medicine when you're pregnant, you should get advice from your midwife or GP.

Paracetamol during pregnancy

When you're pregnant, paracetamol is the preferred choice to treat:

  • mild or moderate pain
  • high temperature (fever)

Paracetamol has been used routinely during all stages of pregnancy to reduce a high temperature and for pain relief. There is no clear evidence that it has any harmful effects on the unborn baby.

However, as with any medicine taken during pregnancy, use paracetamol at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.

If the recommended dose of paracetamol doesn't control your symptoms or you're in pain, get more advice from your midwife or GP.

Paracetamol with caffeine

Tablets that have combined paracetamol and caffiene are not recommended. High levels of caffeine can result in babies having a low birth weight, which can increase the risk of health problems in later life. Too much caffeine can also cause miscarriage.

You don't need to cut out caffeine completely, but don't have more than 200mg a day. The Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) will tell how much paracetamol and caffeine is in each tablet.

Ibuprofen during pregnancy

The advice on taking ibuprofen when you're pregnant is different. It depends on how many weeks pregnant you are. For more information, see Can I take ibuprofen when I'm pregnant?

Avoiding medicines during pregnancy

Ideally, you should avoid taking medicines when you're pregnant, particularly during the first three months. Conditions such as colds or minor aches and pains often don't need treating with medicines.

If you feel you do need to take medicines when you're pregnant, talk to your midwife or GP first. You can also get advice from your local pharmacy or call NHS 111.

If you take any medicine when you're pregnant, you should use the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. If the recommended dose doesn't control your symptoms or you're often in pain, get more advice from your midwife or GP.

Read the answers to more questions about medicines and supplements during pregnancy.

Further information:

Antenatal classes

Find out why antenatal classes are important, what to do on labour day and more.

Media last reviewed: 02/10/2013

Next review due: 02/10/2015

Page last reviewed: 25/05/2013

Next review due: 24/05/2015