Pain Meds and Pregnancy

Not all over-the-counter pain relievers are the same, and for pregnant women it is important to know which are safe for both mom and baby. OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says if you are pregnant and in pain, taking acetaminophen is perfectly safe, however she advises against  nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Studies show that NSAIDs can increase the risk of certain heart defects in children, so be sure to consult with your doctor before taking them.

Learn the difference between pain relievers and which ones are best to use for varying conditions.


Acetaminophen is in a class of medications called analgesics, or pain relievers, and antipyretics, or fever reducers. It is not an anti-inflammatory agent.

A dose of acetaminophen works by changing the way the body senses pain. It is used to relieve mild to moderate pain and reduce fever.

Acetaminophen is processed through the liver, and should not be taken with alcohol or by people who consume more than three alcoholic drinks a day.

• Pain relief from minor to moderate aches and pains.
• Best for headaches.
• Fever reducer.
• Does not cause stomach irritation.
• Best pain reliever for children.
• Can be used in all stages of pregnancy.


• Acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States.
• It should not be taken with alcohol or by people who consume more than three alcoholic drinks a day.
• It should not be given to babies younger than 3 months old.

Aspirin is derived from tree bark and is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It is often used to help prevent heart attacks because it blocks the formation of blood clots. Aspirin is an effective treatment for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and minor aches and pains.

• Inflammatory conditions.
• Aches and pains.
• Reduce the formation of blood clots.

• Can cause stomach irritation.
• Can cause stomach bleeding.
• Should not be given to children and teens because it can cause Reyes Syndrome, a potentially fatal disease that can affect the brain and liver.
• Large doses can cause tinnitus.
• Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take aspirin.
• Should not be used to treat asthma.

Ibuprofen is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It works by interrupting the body's production of a substance that causes pain, fever and inflammation. Ibuprofen is usually considered more effective than acetaminophen.

• Relieve mild to moderate pain from body and muscle aches.
• Reduce fever.
• Reduce inflammation and swelling.
• Relieve menstrual cramps.
• Safe for use in children.

• Stomach irritation.
• Can cause ulcers.
• Not advised for pregnancy.

Download this information.