Painkillers in Pregnancy: Short term remedy causing lifelong suffering?


A painless pregnancy is unheard of, but before taking a pain medication also called analgesics, all expecting mothers must consult their OB-GYN regarding what medicines might suit their system and what is the appropriate dosage to reduce pain that causes minimum side effects instead of taking over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers. Certain painkillers available in OTC raise the probability of birth deficiencies or impediments at the time of labor and delivery. Danish research analyses that prolonged use of any painkiller may raise the risk of undescended testicles in baby boys, a condition linked to infertility and cancer in later life. Consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs in particular, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, increases the chances of having a miscarriage.

Despite this, not all painkillers are deemed as carrying potential risks. Dr. Alane Park, M.D., and co-author of ‘The Mommy Doc’s Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Birth’, states that most medications don’t cause harm if occasionally consumed in the minimum state, in fact, she states that the consequences of not taking any medication at all might cause more problem. But taking unnecessary drugs during the first trimester (week 1-13) of pregnancy is heavily discouraged as during that stage is when major organ development of the fetus occurs. The Department of Health recommends not consuming any painkillers during the third trimester of pregnancy due to the high risk of getting heart complications that can lead to high blood pressure in your unborn fetus’s lungs and may decrease the level of amniotic fluid in which your fetus floats. Mentioned below are details regarding the pros and cons of some common painkillers to take while pregnant which an expecting mother may come across:

  1. Acetaminophen: It is a common over the counter medication usually sold under the brand name Tylenol, particularly approved by doctors in the USA for expecting mothers, which can be consumed in high quantity or a mild dosage with other drugs as per the consultancy of one’s doctor. According to the Organization of Teratology Information Services and a scan of the medical literature, Tylenol at recommended doses has been shown to cause no risk for miscarriage, birth defects or subsequent lowered I.Q. levels in children.  It is not recommended for people with liver problems. Extremely high doses may cause mild effects in the child’s development like causing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  2. Aspirin: It is the most common OTC medication which is to be avoided in particular. Women in the first trimester, sometimes unaware of their pregnancy, take this medicine which contains salicylate and acetylsalicylate which result in severe bleeding before and after delivery and other problems.
  3. Penicillin: A drug consumed for curing an infection like strep throat or a UTI that calls for antibiotics. Dr. Park says, “There have never been any birth defects associated with the penicillin family or any other issues linked to mom or baby”.
  4. Paracetamol: It is safe to use paracetamol as pain medicine in pregnancy and fever with mild dosage but beware not to mix it with high caffeine intake. The intake of caffeine altogether is to be reduced during pregnancy as it may result in low birth weight or other health problems.

To keep the dosage of these medications to a minimum, pregnant women can take various natural preventive methods which might aid. Consumption of fiber and regular exercise is encouraged to avoid constipation. Sleeping on an incline and staying clear of oily fast food will prevent indigestion and heartburn. Drink warm liquids in god quantity and take generally good care of health to avoid medication. Make your pregnancy safe and comfortable.

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