Common Health Questions

Can I take ibuprofen when I'm pregnant?

It depends on what stage of pregnancy you're at.

If you do need to take painkillers, paracetamol is usually recommended rather than ibuprofen. However, before you take 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.
  • Fever (high temperature).  

Ibuprofen during pregnancy

The advice on use of ibuprofen during pregnancy depends on how many weeks pregnant you are.

During weeks 1-13 (first trimester), you should avoid taking ibuprofen:

  • Ibuprofen taken around the time you conceive and for longer than one week during early pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage.
  • Ibuprofen taken up to week 13 may slightly increase the risk of development problems for your unborn baby, such as defects in the abdominal wall, cleft palate or heart problems.

During weeks 14-27 (second trimester), if you need medicine to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, you can take ibuprofen occasionally.

During weeks 28-40 (third trimester), you should avoid taking ibuprofen because it may, for example:

  • Increase the risk of heart problems that cause high blood pressure in your unborn baby's lungs.
  • Delay your labour.
  • Reduce the amount of amniotic fluid in which your baby floats.

You should only take ibuprofen after week 28 on the advice of a doctor, and your pregnancy will be monitored regularly to check for any problems.

What if I’ve already taken ibuprofen?

If you've taken ibuprofen occasionally when you're pregnant, it's unlikely to cause harm to your unborn baby.

However, if you've taken frequent doses of ibuprofen after week 28, get advice from your GP.

Avoiding medicines during pregnancy

Ideally, 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 that 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 inform on 0800 22 44 88.

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 further advice from your midwife or GP.

Last Updated: 15 January 2013