Medical Q&As

Pregnancy - headache treatment?

Could you please advise what medication is allowed to treat headaches for expectant mothers?

The general consensus with regard to using prescribed and OTC (over the counter) medication during pregnancy is that the practice is best avoided unless it is considered essential. It is also important to point out that most drugs on the market are not licensed for use during pregnancy. The first twelve weeks of pregnancy is the key phase when the foetal organs are formed with the 3 to 8 week period post-conception being the most critical. If the foetus is exposed to harmful chemicals during those weeks congenital abnormalities could ensue. That is the reason why we are so cautious about using medication during pregnancy, especially in the first twelve weeks. However, in situations where it really is necessary for a pregnant woman to take a headache remedy paracetamol is the drug of choice because it has not been associated with damage to the foetus. Occasional use of low dose aspirin carries no apparent risk. Regular use of aspirin, especially in the last three months of pregnancy, can be associated with prolonged labour, low birth weight babies and platelet abnormalities. In summary, if you really have to take medication to relieve headache during pregnancy, paracetamol is the drug of choice.