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Medications during pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Pain Medications

One of the most common questions is about medications for pain. There are different medications for different types and levels of pain and there are limitations on using these medications, so it is usually best to ask about your current situation. As with any medication, you should check with your health care provider about the best medication and possible side effects based on drug interactions or her medical history.

  • We don’t expect any increased risks from Acetaminophen (Tylenol) anytime in pregnancy or breastfeeding when used for minor pain, such as sore throats, headaches, and minor injuries.
  • Aspirin can be used for minor pain and headaches up to the 20th week of pregnancy, but should not be used after the 20th week of pregnancy and not during breastfeeding, except for low-dose aspirin for certain heart conditions, under the care of a medical provider.
  • Other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), etc. can be used up to the 20th week of pregnancy, and during breastfeeding, but not after the 20th week of pregnancy.
  • Aspirin and NSAIDS can affect the development of the baby’s kidneys and can affect the fetal circulation late in pregnancy. They are also hard on the stomach so they shouldn’t be used if mom has reflux/heartburn.

Prescription Medications

  • Prescription medications such as sumatriptan (Imitrex) are other options for migraines instead of aspirin in pregnancy or breastfeeding.
  • Most opiates, such as morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone, can be used in pregnancy and breastfeeding, as prescribed for severe pain or surgeries.
  • Codeine can be used with some cautions in breastfeeding: use not longer than 4 days and monitor the baby for sedation, limpness, and feeding difficulty. This is because a very few number of people have a genetic predisposition to metabolize (or convert) codeine which can build up in the baby and cause sedation.

Contacting MotherToBaby.org or by calling 866-626-6847 is the best way to receive accurate and updated information about exposures in pregnancy and breastfeeding.