Date: March 2024, Version 3.0

Quick read

Use of ibuprofen during pregnancy is not advised unless prescribed by a doctor, especially if you are 20 or more weeks pregnant. 

What is it?

Ibuprofen (Anadin Ibuprofen®, Cuprofen®, Brufen®, Galprofen®, Feminax®, Nurofen®) is a painkiller that can be bought from a pharmacy or may sometimes be prescribed by a doctor. It belongs to a class of drug called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).


What are the benefits of taking ibuprofen in pregnancy?

Use of ibuprofen during pregnancy is not advised unless prescribed by a doctor, especially if you are 20 or more weeks pregnant. Taking ibuprofen before week 20 of pregnancy is unlikely to harm your baby.

If continued use of ibuprofen in pregnancy is advised by a doctor, this is because it is the best treatment to control pain or an inflammatory illness.


Are there any risks of taking ibuprofen in pregnancy?

Some (but not all) studies have suggested that ibuprofen use in early pregnancy might be linked to an increased chance of miscarriage. However, one explanation for this is that some inflammatory illnesses that ibuprofen is used to treat increase the chance of miscarriage.

Ibuprofen after week 20 of pregnancy can cause complications, some of which might be severe, such as:
•    Reduced amniotic fluid around the baby – this can affect the baby’s lung and kidney development.
•    Early closure of a blood vessel in the lungs (called the ductus arteriosus) that needs to stay open while the baby is in the womb for correct blood circulation. This can also lead to a serious lung condition in newborn babies called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).

If you have taken ibuprofen after week 20 of pregnancy while not under medical supervision, especially if you have taken several doses, please tell your doctor or midwife as soon as possible. Your obstetrician may wish to check the baby and amniotic fluid levels by ultrasound scan. As effects on the baby in the womb often improve once ibuprofen is stopped, your treatment may be changed if there is a suitable alternative.


Are there any alternatives to taking ibuprofen in pregnancy?

Paracetamol is usually recommended to control pain or fever during pregnancy. If paracetamol does not control your pain, it is important that you ask your doctor for advice before taking ibuprofen or any other NSAID.

No treatment

What if I prefer not to take ibuprofen during pregnancy?

It is important to control any pain in pregnancy so that you remain well. Your doctor will help you explore the best treatment to control your pain and will only prescribe ibuprofen during pregnancy when necessary.

Will my baby need extra monitoring during pregnancy?

Women who need to take ibuprofen after 20 weeks of pregnancy will be monitored by a fetal medicine specialist. 

Women in the UK will be offered a detailed scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy to look for birth defects as part of their routine antenatal care. Taking ibuprofen before 20 weeks of pregnancy would not normally require extra monitoring of your baby for birth defects.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has taken ibuprofen?

We would not expect any increased risk to your baby if the father took ibuprofen before or around the time your baby was conceived.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions regarding the information in this leaflet, please discuss them with your healthcare provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from www.uktis.org.

How can I help to improve drug safety information for pregnant women in the future?

Our online reporting system (MyBump Portal) allows women who are currently pregnant to create a secure record of their pregnancy, collected through a series of questionnaires. You will be asked to enter information about your health, whether or not you take any medicines, your pregnancy outcome and your child's development. You can update your details at any time during pregnancy or afterwards. This information will help us better understand how medicines affect the health of pregnant women and their babies. Please visit the MyBump Portal to register.

General information
Sadly, miscarriage and birth defects can occur in any pregnancy.

Miscarriage occurs in about 1 in every 5 pregnancies, and 1 in every 40 babies are born with a birth defect. This is called the ‘background risk’ and happens whether medication is taken or not.

Most medicines cross the placenta and reach the baby. For many medications this is not a problem. However, some medicines can affect a baby’s growth and development.

If you take regular medication and are planning to conceive, you should discuss whether your medicine is safe to continue with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant. If you have an unplanned pregnancy while taking a medicine, you should tell your doctor as soon as possible.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please make sure that the person prescribing it knows that you are pregnant. If you have any concerns about a medicine, you can check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist.

Our Bumps information leaflets provide information about the effects of medicines in pregnancy so that you can decide, together with your healthcare provider, what is best for you and your baby.