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Can I take ibuprofen when I'm pregnant?

Pregnant women are generally advised to avoid taking ibuprofen. Paracetamol is recommended as a safer choice when you’re pregnant.

Don’t take ibuprofen from 30 weeks of pregnancy onwards

Ibuprofen shouldn't be used when you’re 30 or more weeks pregnant, unless it’s on the advice of a doctor.

This is because taking ibuprofen at this stage of pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of complications, including a heart problem in your baby and a reduced amount of amniotic fluid.

Before 30 weeks of pregnancy, avoid taking ibuprofen

It's best to avoid taking ibuprofen in the first 30 weeks of pregnancy, unless the benefits outweigh the potential risk to your unborn baby.

This is because taking ibuprofen in the first 30 weeks of pregnancy may lead to an increased risk of complications, including miscarriage. 

Make sure you talk to your GP, midwife or pharmacist about the potential benefits and risks before taking ibuprofen in the first six months of pregnancy.

You can find more detailed information on the potential risks of taking ibuprofen at different stages of pregnancy on the bumps (best use of medicines in pregnancy) website.

Paracetamol in pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, paracetamol, is usually the best choice for treating mild to moderate pain or a high temperature (fever).

However, it's a good idea to get advice from your GP, midwife or pharmacist before taking any medicine when you're pregnant.

For more information, see Can I take paracetamol when I'm pregnant?

What if I've already taken ibuprofen?

If you've taken ibuprofen occasionally before you were 30 weeks pregnant, it's unlikely to have affected your unborn baby.

If you've taken ibuprofen after you were 30 weeks pregnant, let your GP or midwife know as your baby's wellbeing in the womb will need to be assessed.

Avoid medicines during pregnancy

It's best to avoid taking medicines when you're pregnant, particularly during the first three months. Colds and minor aches and pains often don't need to be treated with medicines.

If you feel that you need to take medicines, talk to your midwife or GP first. You can also get advice from your local pharmacy or by calling NHS 111.

When taking any type of medicine during pregnancy, 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, see your midwife or GP for advice.

Further information

Page last reviewed: 04/04/2016

Next review due: 04/04/2018