Ibuprofen During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on June 4, 2012

Ibuprofen (brand names - Advil, Calodolor, Nurofen, Motrin etc.) is one of the most commonly used medicines for reducing fever and inflammation and relieving pain.

Is it safe to take Ibuprofen during the first six months of pregnancy?

The use of ibuprofen in the first two trimesters of pregnancy should be avoided as this is the time when the organs of the baby are being formed and the fetus is most sensitive to medications and toxins.

In certain cases your doctor may prescribe ibuprofen to you during pregnancy. This can be done only if no safer alternative is available and the expected health benefits are greater than the associated risk. If you are pregnant, you should never take ibuprofen without medical control and advice from your healthcare provider.

Is it safe to take ibuprofen during the last three months of pregnancy?

In the third trimester (the last three months of pregnancy) ibuprofen is considered to be in pregnancy category D which means that the harmful effect on the fetus in humans has been proved and the drug can be administered to pregnant women only in life-threatening situations.

It is not safe to take ibuprofen during the third trimester of pregnancy. The mechanism of action of ibuprofen includes inhibition of the synthesis of prostaglandins. These are substances that mediate pain, fever and inflammation. However, they are also responsible for a number of other processes in the body. The fetus receives oxygen through the placenta. At the time of birth the blood concentration of prostaglandins naturally decreases which leads to closure of ductus arteriosus (a blood vessel in the heart of fetus). This redirects the blood to the lungs. The inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis by ibuprofen can lead to premature closing of ductus arteriosus in the uterus which can be fatal for the fetus.

Taking ibuprofen during the last trimester can also lead to delayed and prolonged labor and stronger bleeding during delivery.

Some studies have shown that the prolonged use of ibuprofen in high doses can lead to difficulties in conceiving in some women. However, this condition is reversible after discontinuation of the medicine.

Ibuprofen and Breastfeeding

In general, it is better to avoid any medicines while breastfeeding unless you have consulted a doctor. Only small quantities of ibuprofen are found in the breast milk and no adverse effects on the babies have been observed in cases of occasional use of ibuprofen in low doses.

However, women who need long-term treatment with ibuprofen or high doses, should not breastfeed.

In case you are pregnant (or plan to become pregnant) or breastfeeding, consult your doctor before taking ibuprofen.