Pain Medications During Pregnancy: Safe and Unsafe Drugs

Some pain relief medications are safe for consumption during pregnancy - while others are not. Check with your obstetrician to find out what medications are safe. Image by foxumon.

Some pain relief medications are safe for consumption during pregnancy – while others are not. Check with your obstetrician to find out what medications are safe. Image by foxumon.

Are you pregnant and on pain meds? If so, you need to immediately check with a prenatal specialist to see if these medications could be harmful to the developing fetus, and if there is a substitute. While some off-the-shelf pain relief meds are safe in small doses, other medications can be extremely harmful to your baby during your pregnancy.

Typical pain medications include Aspirin, Tylenol, Opioids,and NSAIDS – but many of these are very unsafe to your baby. The risk to the developing fetus varies depending on the medication, the amount, and where in the cycle it was taken, so evaluate your need for pain relief; how badly do you need it?

Pain management specialists emphasize that you can and should treat SEVERE pain; not treating the pain may result in depression, lost appetite, or anxiety, while physiological responses might include hypertension and nutritional deficiency. However, if the pain is minor, you might want to consider using a slightly less effective, but safer, medication, or eliminating your use of pain medication altogether.

Medications That Are NOT Safe to Take During Pregnancy

Certain pain relief medications are perfectly safe to take when you’re not pregnant, but once you are pregnant can be harmful to your growing baby. Doctors do not recommend NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories) such as Motrin or Advil, etc at all. These pose a┬árisk of miscarriage and non-closure of the fetus’ ductus arteriosis (the ductus arteriosis is a vital part of fetal blood circulation, which normally closes up to a week after birth). You should also avoid Tramadol (also known as Ryzolt, Conzip, and Ultram) during the first 2 trimesters and only use it if necessary in the last trimester.

Another common pain relief medication is Opioids. Opioids include Codeine, Meperidine/Demerol, Hydrocodone (also known as Lorcet, Vicodin, etc), Oxycodone (aka Tylox and Percocet),and Morphine. These drugs can cause codeine-related neonatal withdrawal, in which the infant suffers from withdrawal symptoms while its body learns how to live without the drug as soon as it is born.


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Unfortunately, studies with pregnant women are limited, and may include women who have abused the drugs and have additional questionable history. A 2002 study gave the following statistics: There were birth defects in 4.6% of oxycodone-exposed infants, 4.95% of codeine-exposed fetuses, and 7.9% of hydrocodone-exposed fetuses. Researchers also note that women have been using these drugs in therapeutic doses for years without higher rates of defects.

Everyone knows what to do when you have a headache – just take an aspirin, right? However, during pregnancy, this is not such a good idea. Aspirin or salicylic acid, inhibits platelets formation and promotes bleeding in the mother and the fetus. To date no study claims it cannot be used in small, low doses if necessary. The third trimester in particular requires professional oversight if pain relief is necessary in your particular situation. Overall, aspirin is extremely dangerous to both mother and fetus during pregnancy.

Click to Read Page Two: Safe Medications During Pregnancy

© Copyright 2013 Amy Andersen: Health, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Pregnancy

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