Is Tylenol safe for pregnancy? Yes, you can take a normal dose

A regular dose of Tylenol is safe to take during pregnancy. SDI Productions/Getty Images
  • Doctors consider Tylenol to be the safest over-the-counter pain medicine you can take while pregnant.
  • Tylenol dosage is the same for pregnant and non-pregnant adults: take no more than 3,000 milligrams of acetaminophen every 24 hours.
  • While you can take Tylenol, other pain relievers such as ibuprofen and aspirin are not recommended for pregnant women.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Karen Duncan, MD, who is an assistant professor with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone.
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All the physical changes that come with pregnancy also come with new aches and pains. Whether it’s headaches, fever, lower back pain, or aching feet, you don’t have to grit your teeth through the pain.

“There’s no reason why someone should be in pain and suffer while pregnant,” says Laura Laursen, a practicing OB-GYN in Chicago. “There are things we can do medically to bring you relief that are safe.”

Yes, Tylenol is safe during pregnancy

One of those medications is Tylenol, aka acetaminophen. Compared with other over-the-counter pain relievers, Tylenol is considered the safest pain medicine you can take while pregnant. The Baylor College of Medicine Obstetrics & Gynecology recommends it for common pregnancy symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Pains from a stretched uterus
  • Fever
  • General minor aches and pains
  • Flu and cold symptoms

Tylenol is one of the front-line pain meds that we use during pregnancy,” Laursen says. “It’s safe from your first trimester through the third.”

Tylenol is safe in regular doses

Laursen says that the dose of Tylenol for pregnant women is the same as for adults who are not pregnant. Take no more than 3,000 milligrams of acetaminophen every 24 hours.

For regular strength Tylenol, that’s the equivalent of 2 tablets – at 325 milligrams per tablet – every 4 to 6 hours. And always review proper dosing guidelines on the medicine container.

Also, be aware that acetaminophen is often found in other medications, such as over-the-counter cold, cough, and flu medications. So if you’re taking multiple medications, whether prescribed or over-the-counter, look for acetaminophen listed as an ingredient to make sure you don’t take too much in one day.

For more information about what you can or cannot take, see our article on how to treat a cold when you’re pregnant. For allergies, you can take Benadryl. If you’re not sure if you have allergies, the cold, or the flu, learn how to tell the difference.

Too much acetaminophen can cause severe liver damage, whether you’re pregnant or not. That’s because your liver processes the drug into a form your body can use. Too much can overstress it and cause acute liver failure. In fact, acetaminophen overdoses account for an estimated 50% of overdose-related cases of acute liver failure in the US.

Taking Tylenol while pregnant does not cause ADHD

In recent years, a few studies have suggested that using Tylenol while pregnant could increase your baby’s risk for adverse neurological outcomes, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism.

These studies were scrutinised by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine Publications Committee. It released a response that pointed out the limits of the studies for any would-be mothers concerned about the results.

“The two major governing bodies in the field have analysed these studies and determined that they were of very poor quality and did not have proper quality controls and did not use good scientific method,” Laursen says. “Women should not be worried. Tylenol is safe during pregnancy. Hard stop.”

Avoid ibuprofen and aspirin unless advised otherwise

When it comes to over-the-counter pain relievers, Tylenol is most recommended. Other pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen are not recommended by doctors for typical pregnancy aches and pains.

Ibuprofen is off limits completely, Laursen says. Likewise, aspirin is not recommended, unless prescribed by your doctor. For example, a doctor may recommend a small daily dose of aspirin to for some women to decrease their risk of preeclampsia. But if you’re pregnant, don’t take aspirin without consulting your doctor first.

Med-free, alternative pain treatments

If you really don’t want to take a Tylenol, or it’s not managing your pain, you can try other methods to get some pain relief during pregnancy. Laursen recommends:

  • For lower back pain, use a heat or support belt
  • For joint discomfort, try physical therapy or yoga

Ultimately, your treatment plan depends on what’s right for your needs.

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