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Can I Take Advil While Pregnant for Headache

Can I Take Advil While Pregnant for Headache

Pregnancy is associated with headaches and muscle aches. As your uterus enlarges, your center of balance changes, which can put strain on various muscles, especially those in your lower back. The shift in hormones also increases your flexibility, making it easy to accidentally overstretch and become sore.

If you normally reach for a bottle of Advil (ibuprofen) to heal a stiff neck or aching back, you might be wondering if it's safe now that you're pregnant. While there are some potential risks early in pregnancy, Advil is not recommended, especially after the first 20 weeks, as it poses some rare but serious risks to the baby.

What is Advil?

Advil is a pain reliever and fever reducer. Along with Motrin and Nuprin, Advil is a brand name for the drug ibuprofen. Many people use Advil to treat a headache or muscle pain such as menstrual cramps or aching legs.

Advil works by blocking prostaglandins, which are chemicals in the body that promote inflammation. Prostaglandins use inflammation to heal, but this also leads to pain and fever. "[Advil] reversibly binds to ... enzymes that decrease prostaglandin precursors, which helps reduce pain and inflammation in the body," explains Carlene Link, PharmD, BCPS, a clinical pharmacist based in Ohio.

Medications that block prostaglandins to relieve their uncomfortable side effects are classified as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Aspirin and Aleve are also NSAIDs.

Can I take Advil when I'm pregnant?

If you are pregnant, consult a doctor before use. It is especially important not to use ibuprofen if you are 20 weeks pregnant or later unless specifically directed to do so by a doctor, as it may cause problems in the unborn baby or complications during delivery.

Can I take Advil if I am breastfeeding?

Not unless recommended by your doctor. If you have a health condition or are taking any other medications, it's important to talk to your doctor before taking Advil.

Safety Precautions
Taking Advil while pregnant carries serious risks to your developing baby, especially after the 20th week of pregnancy.

Fertility Problems
Ovarian germ cells are already forming in female fetuses. Studies in human ovarian explants, as well as animal studies, show that taking Advil in early pregnancy could reduce the number of eggs in a female fetus. Although more research is needed to confirm this risk, it's worth considering.

Low Amniotic Fluid
Taking Advil after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy has been linked to low levels of amniotic fluid in the uterus. At this point in fetal development, the baby's kidneys produce most of the amniotic fluid, which serves to promote fetal growth, cushion the baby, and has antimicrobial properties.

Advil and other NSAIDs can cause kidney problems that prevent the baby from making enough of them. This can lead to problems such as stunted fetus growth, birth defects, or miscarriage.

Premature closure of the ductus arteriosus
The ductus arteriosus (DA) is an extra blood vessel that babies have in the heart in the womb. The DA carries blood away from the lungs, which is necessary before babies start breathing oxygen.10 After birth, it usually closes within a few days. NSAIDs like Advil were linked to the DA closure too early. Although rare, premature closure of the DA is serious and can lead to heart problems and fetal death.

Natural Methods to Relieve Pregnancy Pain

Dealing with the pain associated with pregnancy can be challenging, especially if you've been instructed to avoid pain relievers like Advil, Motrin, Tylenol, Aleve, or Excedrin. Here is a list of alternative solutions to help you manage your pain during pregnancy.

  • Use a heat pad or warm compress for throbbing and headaches (*do not soak in a hot bath or tub)
  • Use a cold compress for inflammation
  • Wear a pregnancy belt to reduce back pain
  • Get a prenatal massage
  • Rub in essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus or arnica
  • Get acupuncture
  • Try prenatal yoga or swimming
  • Visit a chiropractor
  • Meditate and do breathing exercises

Advil is not a safe pain reliever to use during pregnancy as it can cause rare but serious complications for your baby. Talk to your doctor about any physical discomfort you experience during pregnancy and they will help you find relief in the safest possible way.

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