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Taking Paracetamol During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

Do you know the risks associated with taking paracetamol during pregnancy?

When it comes to pregnancy, women are constantly absorbing new information on foetal alcohol syndrome with every antenatal visit to public health facilities. We know precisely what smoking, drinking, and taking drugs during pregnancy does to unborn babies. Few people question what over-the-counter preparations do. 

Paracetamol is seen as a harmless over-the-counter pain medication. Doctors prescribe it often to relieve pregnant women of the aches and pains associated with pregnancy. 

Can You Take 500mg Of Paracetamol When Pregnant?

If necessary, Paracetamol 500mg tablets can be used during pregnancy. Always use the lowest dose needed to reduce pain or calm your fever. Also, only use it when necessary.

Contact your physician if the pain or fever persists after taking paracetamol.

How Much Paracetamol Can I Take When Pregnant?

You should always try to take as little as possible. 

Recently research published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology from a panel of experts who examined data from several studies done on the use of paracetamol in pregnant humans and animals recommends that pregnant women should:

  • Refrain from using paracetamol unless otherwise medically indicated;
  • Speak to their doctor about their uncertainties about whether to use the medication or not and before embarking on long-term usage; and
  • Reduce risk by only using the lowest effective dosage of paracetamol for a short time.

Over-the-counter medication is used to treat pain and fever. In some countries, paracetamol is known as acetaminophen. It’s been used by at least half the world’s pregnant women population for generations to treat pain and fever safely. Notably, paracetamol is the active ingredient in many prescription and non-prescription medications. 

Is Paracetamol Safe to Take During the First Trimester?

Based on their observations, experts say indiscriminate usage may alter foetal development and lead to an increased risk of some neurodevelopmental, reproductive, and urogenital illnesses. 

According to theconversation.com, using any medication during pregnancy comes down to navigating and balancing the protection of the unborn baby and treating the mom’s illnesses. A trusted healthcare professional must be consulted at every turn of the pregnancy to ensure that the best choices are made concerning medication, thereby reducing troublesome anxiety and concerns. 

Medicineinpregnancy.org says other over-the-counter painkillers have not proven their efficacy as safer options, any more than paracetamol, which remains the recommended medication for pain, and fever when pregnant. However, the pregnant woman needs to take only the lowest possible dosage of paracetamol for as long as she needs it. Some of the other medications, including paracetamol, indicate that it is only safe for use during certain times of pregnancy.

Various studies have made the following conclusions:

  • Miscarriage: In two studies, no increased risk was identified among pregnant women using paracetamol. It’s important to note, however, that there is always a risk associated with taking medication during pregnancy.
  • Baby born with defects: the riskiest time to take medication is during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy when the baby’s internal organs are formed. None of the studies found evidence of congenital disabilities, undescended testicles in male births or changes in hormonal levels among mothers who used or didn’t use paracetamol during the first trimester.
  • Preterm birth: In one study that investigated the link between pre-37 weeks delivery and the use of paracetamol in the third trimester, no increased risk of early birth.
  • Low weight birth: A study that investigated babies weighing less than 2500g at delivery found no risk where mothers used paracetamol in pregnancy. Likewise, no links were found in a study on stillbirth and paracetamol use in pregnancy.

However, multiple research studies linking learning or behavioural problems and the use of paracetamol during pregnancy are still ongoing.   

What Are Your Healthcare Options In Pregnancy?

Medical insurance has varying maternity benefits with each plan.

If you experience any complications during childbirth, such as preterm birth, your premature baby will need to stay in the neonatal ICU. This type of care can tend to be very expensive.

Newborns are also very prone to many health problems and will be covered immediately by medical insurance when they are born, making taking out the insurance well worth it.

It’s best to make sure you have medical insurance at least a year before you plan on falling pregnant, to make sure you aren’t within a waiting period when you need cover. Planning everything will save you loads of money and stress in the long run. 

Check out the Affinity Health day-to-day plan or the Affinity Health Hospital plan.

Affinity Health covers natural birth for up to R25000 and C-sections for up to R35000.

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