Date: September 2021, Version 3

What is it?

Morphine is a strong painkiller used to treat severe and/or persistent pain. Brand names include MST, Zomorph, Sevredol, Morphgesic, MXL, and Oramorph.


What are the benefits of using morphine in pregnancy?

Morphine can improve quality of life and wellbeing in pregnant women with conditions that cause severe pain.


Are there any risks of using morphine in pregnancy?

There is not much information available about pregnant women who took morphine so we cannot rule out that it may affect the developing baby. Morphine used around the time of delivery can also cause problems with the newborn baby’s breathing for a while and might cause withdrawal symptoms that require hospital treatment.


Are there any alternatives to using morphine in pregnancy?

Yes, other painkillers can be safely used in pregnancy but may not provide the same level of pain relief as morphine. Women using morphine who become pregnant or who are planning a pregnancy should consult their doctor or specialist so that their medication and dosage can be reviewed, and the risks and benefits of changing to something else can be weighed up.

No treatment

What if I prefer not to take medicines to treat pain during pregnancy?

Poorly managed pain in pregnancy can result in depression, anxiety and high blood pressure. Your doctor will only prescribe medicines when absolutely necessary and will be happy to talk with you about any concerns that you might have.

Will my baby need extra monitoring?

As part of routine antenatal care, most women will be offered a very detailed scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy to check the baby’s development. Women using morphine in pregnancy will not usually need any extra monitoring.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has used morphine?

There is no evidence that morphine used by the father around the time of conception can harm the baby.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions about the information in this leaflet please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from

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.