Aspirin During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on May 29, 2012

Can Aspirin be used by Pregnant Women?

In general, the use of aspirin by pregnant women is not recommended. If you are receiving continuous treatment with aspirin and you become pregnant, you should immediately inform your doctor. Aspirin should not be taken during any of the trimesters of pregnancy. In the first and the second trimester of the pregnancy it can have a teratogenic effect and affect the development of the fetus and it is also associated with a higher rate of miscarriages.

Avoiding aspirin is especially important during the third trimester of pregnancy. Administering aspirin during this period is connected with a higher risk of delivery complications affecting both the mother and the baby.

Aspirin works by inhibiting the synthesis of substances called prostaglandins. They can cause fever and inflammation but this is not their only function. Before babies are born, they receive oxygen through the blood from the placenta. At birth a natural drop of prostaglandin levels helps to direct the blood to the lungs of the baby instead to the placenta. Since aspirin interferes with prostaglandin levels, its usage during the third trimester of pregnancy may lead to premature rerouting of the baby’s blood in uterus and closing of ductus arteriousus. This can be fatal for the baby.

The use of aspirin around delivery time can also cause a higher risk of bleeding. Some studies show that aspirin can reduce fertility but other studies show no such effect.

Still, in some cases aspirin can be used during pregnancy in low doses if the potential benefit outweighs the risks and only under strict medical control. Aspirin is sometimes used in the treatment of serious conditions, such as antiphospholipid syndrome or preeclampsia (a condition characterized by hypertension and retention of fluids during pregnancy). Aspirin might be used during pregnancy in low doses only in certain cases, after very careful evaluation of the risks and possible benefits by a doctor and only if no safer alternative is available.

Can Aspirin be used by Breastfeeding Women?

Small quantities of aspirin are excreted in breast milk. A single low dose of aspirin used for the treatment of occasional pain or fever is not likely to cause harm to babies. However, it is better to avoid it. Women that need long-lasting treatment with aspirin or higher doses, should not breastfeed.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, do not take aspirin before consulting with your physician.