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Can You Take Tylenol While Pregnant?
Updated on
December 6, 2023

Can You Take Tylenol While Pregnant?

By Amylia Ryan | Medically Reviewed by Malavika Prabhu
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Can You Take Tylenol While Pregnant?.
Can You Take Tylenol While Pregnant?

When you’re pregnant, you become more aware of what you’re consuming and putting on your skin since you’re carrying another person. Many pregnant people focus on balancing their nutrition, taking a prenatal vitamin and avoiding alcohol, but what about medications that you normally might not think twice about, like pain killers?

Pregnancy can sometimes bring along some pretty debilitating aches and pains—like relentless backaches and pelvic pain (especially common in later pregnancy). And if you get a fever, you’ll need to keep it low to prevent any potential side effects for your baby (more on that in a bit).

The go-to pain killer + fever reducer has always been Tylenol, but much like everything else you consume while pregnant, you might wonder if Tylenol is safe during pregnancy.

Can I take Tylenol while pregnant?

Short answer: yes. There’s some context worth noting, too.

Tylenol is a pain reliever that contains the drug acetaminophen, which doctors frequently recommend for treating pain and fever, even for pregnant people.

In fact, about 65% of pregnant people have used acetaminophen at some point during pregnancy. But be sure not to combine Tylenol (or other brands of acetaminophen) with other medications without running it by your healthcare provider first.

Tylenol While Pregnant: Risks & Concerns

You may have heard about the statement published in Nature in 2021 that claimed Tylenol might adversely affect fetal development, but the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has strongly rejected that statement and assures that Tylenol is still the safest pain medication for pregnant people.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a high fever during pregnancy could cause harm to the developing baby. While further research is needed to determine the exact cause and effect of fetal exposure to fever, animal studies have shown a link between running a high fever while pregnant and heart, jaw and neural tube defects. So if you have a fever and the choice is between letting the fever run high and taking Tylenol, take the Tylenol. And when in doubt, call your doctor.

How Much Tylenol Can I Take While Pregnant?

With your physician’s approval, you can take the recommended adult dosage of regular-strength Tylenol while you’re pregnant: two 325 miligram tablets or liquid capsules every four to six hours while symptoms last, and don’t take more than 10 tablets or capsules in 24 hours. Even if your pain or fever doesn’t totally subside, do not take more than the maximum dose recommended on the label.

Also consider why you’re taking the Tylenol. Is it for a very minor ache that might go away in an hour or so, or that stretching might resolve? Since Tylenol is considered safe for pregnancy in moderation, you shouldn’t grab it for every small twinge (since there are a lot during pregnancy). But definitely do take it if your pain is moderate and consistently bothersome, or if you have a fever.

Can I take Tylenol Extra Strength during pregnancy?

Tylenol Extra Strength and Tylenol Rapid Release Gels are generally considered safe during pregnancy, but they contain a higher dosage of acetaminophen. With physician approval, pregnant people can take the recommended dosage for adults: two 500 miligram caplets every six hours while symptoms last, and don’t take more than six caplets in 24 hours.

Can I take Tylenol PM during pregnancy?

Tylenol PM is actually a combination of two drugs: acetaminophen and diphenhydramine (better known as the antihistamine that’s in things like Benadryl). Both drugs are considered safe for short-term, occasional, provider-approved use while pregnant. The suggested dosage for adults is two caplets at bedtime, with no more than two caplets in a 24-hour period. Long term use is not recommended for anyone.

If you’re having a lot of trouble sleeping or experiencing frequent insomnia, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider to find ways of helping you get the rest you need.

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How to relieve headaches and back pain naturally during pregnancy

Two of the most common complaints during pregnancy are headaches and back pain (along with round ligament pain). “Body aches are more common during later pregnancy and can be treated with massage or Tylenol, if needed. For body aches, the most important thing is to try to prevent them by staying active and eating a healthy, balanced diet when you can,” says Dr. Sarah Yamaguchi, an LA-based ob-gyn.

For a preventative approach to pregnancy pains, consider trying these natural ways to ease discomfort:

  • Stretches or prenatal yoga: Gentle exercises release tension and strengthen the muscles that support your baby bump, helping to relieve back pain. The focus on deep breathing in yoga can also help reduce tension headaches.
  • Meditation: Practicing regular meditation—even if it’s just for a few minutes a day—can lower your stress level and reduce the pain and frequency of headaches. Getting an app like Expectful (a pregnancy-specific meditation app), Calm or Headspace can help make it easy to do. Similarly, acupuncture during pregnancy may also help.
  • Hot or cold packs: Hot packs can relieve pain from sinus headaches as well as general muscle aches, while cold packs may work better for tension headaches.
  • Prenatal massage: This form of massage for pregnancy relaxes tight muscles and can lower stress levels, which can be helpful for many pregnancy aches and pains.
  • Belly belts: Maternity belts help support your baby bump and take pressure off your back and hips.
  • Water: Dehydration can sometimes cause headaches. Be sure to drink lots of water and snack on foods high in water content, like watermelon, cucumbers and celery.
  • Body pillows: Using a pregnancy pillow between your legs when you lie on your side reduces pressure on the lower back. Many people also use pillows to cushion their baby bump or put it behind their backs for extra support when they sleep.

These home remedies for pain relief can be a big help. But if you’re experiencing severe or frequent pain or have a fever, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider right away. They can provide pain-relief suggestions and guidance on over-the-counter medications, and be sure that what you’re experiencing isn’t part of a bigger issue. Plus, being reassured by your doctor that everything you’re doing is safe for your growing baby relieves stress, too.

This article was reviewed for factual accuracy in February 2023 by Dr. Malavika Prabhu, maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Harvard Medical School and member of the Babylist Health Advisory Board.

Sources:


Amylia Ryan

Associate Editor

Amylia Ryan is the Associate Editor at Babylist, specializing on the topics of health, wellness, lifestyle products and more. Combining nearly a decade of experience in writing and editing with a deep passion for helping people, her number one goal in her work is to ensure new parents feel supported and understood. She herself is a parent to two young children, who are more than willing to help product test endless toys, books, clothes, toiletries and more.

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and review products, as well as the Babylist Health Advisory Board.