Ibuprofen Use During Pregnancy – what you need to know

The writing on the wall is that it is not recommended to take Ibuprofen during pregnancy. However, it all depends on what stage of pregnancy are you in right now.

It is advised by the Medicines & Health Care Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) that Ibuprofen is not advisable in the last trimester of pregnancy, and only advised during the first two trimesters if the potential benefit of the medication outweighs the risk to the fetus.

Ibuprofen is a Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory drug (NSAID) that may cause complications during pregnancy. It is best to avoid this drug and other NSAIDs such as naproxen throughout your entire pregnancy.

If you must take it, then it is considered to be safe under your doctor’s orders during the first and second trimesters. However, your doctor must know that you are taking this medication and must watch you closely.

pills and pregnancy

Paracetamol, commonly known as acetaminophen or Tylenol, is a safer choice for fevers and aches and pains during pregnancy. Even so, it is always the best option to talk with your doctor before taking any type of medication during pregnancy.

Ibuprofen in the 1st Trimester

Taking Ibuprofen during first to the thirteenth week isn’t the best idea and may lead to serious heart defects in the fetus. Ibuprofen has also been linked to facial abnormalities such as the cleft palate and gastrointestinal issues such as necrotizing enterocolitis in the newborn.

The evidence surrounding ibuprofen during the first trimester is minimal, and many OB/GYNs won’t get too mad if their patients are taking ibuprofen every once in a blue moon. However, to be on the safe side, it is best not to use ibuprofen or other NSAIDs while pregnant.

You don’t want to risk your baby’s health by risking taking ibuprofen or any type of NSAID while pregnant. Instead, utilize Tylenol for any of your aches and pains.

Ibuprofen in the 2nd Trimester

The Second Trimester of pregnancy is considered relatively safer for taking Ibuprofen.

Use of ibuprofen during the 2nd trimester too should be restricted and cannot be taken continuously or daily. It should be restricted to manage pain or inflammation only.

For everything else there is Paracetamol which is safe during all stages of pregnancy but, the rule is the same again. The consumption should be minimal and only on ‘SOS’ basis. Paracetamol, or Tylenol, is safe during all trimesters of pregnancy and can be used for fever and pain.

Ibuprofen in the 3rd Trimester

Ibuprofen should absolutely not be taken during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can close the patent ductus arteriosus in the fetus’ heart, and lead to hypoxia in utero.

While the baby is in utero, it is not using its lungs. Instead, your baby shunts blood from its lungs through the heart, and through an opening known as the patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). Once the baby is born, the PDA closes, and your child can breathe normally. If the PDA closes in utero, then heart and lung defects.

Safe Medications During Pregnancy

When you are taking Ibuprofen or any other medications during your pregnancy irrespective of any other complications, you should be under medical supervision and let your Obstetrician know what you are taking.

Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs aren’t the best ideas to take during pregnancy. Even if you are trying to get pregnant, it is best to avoid NSAIDs. However, don’t fret if you accidentally take a few doses before you find out that you are pregnant, or during the first few months.

Evidence-based science has shown correlations with heart issues and taking ibuprofen during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, but the evidence is scant in terms of the 1st and 2nd trimesters. To be on the safe side though, and to ensure that you will have a healthy and happy baby, it is best to just avoid NSAIDs altogether.

If you already have taken Ibuprofen due ignorance of the complication it could cause, don’t panic. It’s not going to harm your baby if you accidentally take one dose at the beginning of your pregnancy.

But, it is always best to run your medications by your OB first, and learn what is and isn’t safe to take during pregnancy. Ask your doctor for a list of recommended medications and stick to that list to help you deliver a happy and healthy baby.


  1. Effects of ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen, and piroxicam on the course of pregnancy and pregnancy outcome: a prospective cohort study -ncbi [Link]
  2. Major malformations after first-trimester exposure to aspirin and NSAIDs -ncbi [Link]
  3. Ibuprofen Use in Pregnancy: Less Dangerous Than Thought? [Link]
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