Can You Take Tylenol While Pregnant?
Can You Take Tylenol While Pregnant?
September 1, 2021

Can You Take Tylenol While Pregnant?

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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 since you’re now carrying another person. Many pregnant people focus on balancing their nutrition, taking a prenatal vitamin and avoiding common, over-the-counter medications like Tylenol—particularly given the most recent concensus statement regarding acetaminophen usage in pregnancy.

But pregnancy is also known for its fair share of aches and pains—like relentless backaches (so common in later pregnancy) and sore ankles from carrying that bump around all day. Pregnancy pains are common and normal, but they still hurt. So what can you do?

Can You Take Tylenol While Pregnant?

Tylenol is a pain reliever that contains the drug acetaminophen. Doctors frequently recommend pregnant women take the medication to treat occasional mild to moderate pain or to reduce a fever during any trimester during their pregnancy.

“For aches and pains, Tylenol is still really the only safe medication,” says Dr. Sarah Yamaguchi, MD, FACOG.

In fact, about 65% of women have used acetaminophen at some point during pregnancy. It’s considered safer than other over-the-counter options like ibuprofen or aspirin, which have been linked to birth defects. But be sure not to combine Tylenol (or other brands of acetaminophen) with other medications without running it by your healthcare provider.

Tylenol Extra Strength During Pregnancy

Tylenol Extra Strength is generally considered safe during pregnancy, but it contains a higher dosage of acetaminophen. With your provider’s approval, you can take the recommended dosage for adults while you’re pregnant (two 500 miligram caplets every six hours while symptoms last) and don’t take more than six caplets in 24 hours.

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.

Tylenol While Pregnant: Risks & Concerns

While acetaminophen is largely considered the safest pain reliever to take while pregnant, it’s not without some risks. Emerging research suggests a possible association between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and a small increase in the likelihood of asthma, ADHD and autism in children. More recently, a concensus among a group of scientists was published, claiming that prenatal exposure to acetaminophen (Tylenol) may alter fetal development.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published a statement in response emphasizing the lack of evidence that proves a direct relationship between the use of acetaminophen during any trimester and fetal developmental issues. Dr. Yamaguchi agrees with the recommendations offered by ACOG and encourages pregnant people to consult their healthcare providers should they have concerns regarding acetaminophen usage.

The cited studies in the concensus aren’t considered strong scientific evidence since many were done in animals and often at much higher doses than typical, or through self-reports by women who took Tylenol during pregnancy (observational data is considered among the least reliable). Much of the criticim of these studies are that they have imperfect controls—which makes it really hard to separate what factors actually drive the results.

So at this point, there’s no definite proof that appropriate acetaminophen use negatively impacts babies, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tread with caution. To be safe, experts recommend taking the lowest dose for the shortest possible time or trying alternative ways to relieve pain first. And of course, before taking any sort of medication or supplement during pregnancy, you should always consult your healthcare provider.

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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. Yamaguchi.

If you’d like to avoid using medication, 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.
  • 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 pregnant people relaxes tight muscles and can lower stress levels, which can be helpful for many pregnancy aches and pains.
  • Belly belts: These rigid belts help support your baby bump and take pressure off your back.
  • 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 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 the Babylist Health Advisory Board.