Is It Safe to Take Advil (Ibuprofen) During Pregnancy?

Medically reviewed by Erika Prouty, PharmD

When pregnant, it can be overwhelming trying to determine which medications are safe to take. Advil (ibuprofen) is a commonly used medication for pain and fever relief, but it's not recommended to take during pregnancy. However, there are alternatives to choose from.

You should avoid taking ibuprofen if you are 20 weeks or more pregnant. Taking ibuprofen after the 20th week of pregnancy may cause poor kidney function and other complications in the fetus.

It's unclear if taking it early in pregnancy (before 20 weeks) will affect the fetus. For this reason, the preferred treatment for pain during pregnancy is Tylenol or non-medication practices.

This article reviews why ibuprofen may not be taken during pregnancy and other treatment options to help manage your pain while pregnant.

<p>Getty Images / Oscar Wong</p>

Getty Images / Oscar Wong

Can I Take Ibuprofen While Pregnant?

It's not clear whether there are risks in taking it before 20 weeks of pregnancy, so it's best to limit or avoid NSAIDs during that time to be safe. Tylenol is an alternative option that is considered safe to take.

Taking ibuprofen at 20 weeks or later of pregnancy has been associated with low levels of amniotic fluid (protective fluid surrounding the fetus), which signifies poor kidney function.

Ibuprofen is classified as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). NSAIDs are commonly used to treat pain, fever, and inflammation.

Examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen, Aleve (naproxen), diclofenac, aspirin, and Celebrex (celecoxib).

If your healthcare provider recommended ibuprofen as the best option, it should be the lowest effective dose for no more than 48 hours.


If you're pregnant, always check with a healthcare provider before taking any medication. While this is general guidance, you should always consult a provider for personalized medical advice.

What Can Happen If You Take Ibuprofen in Pregnancy?

Before week 20 of pregnancy

During the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, ibuprofen may be safe to take in limited amounts. However, it is unclear if the use of NSAIDs will cause harm to the fetus. Therefore, ibuprofen is not the preferred drug of choice to help manage pain or inflammation in pregnancy.

You can consider non-medication therapy or Tylenol instead to help manage your pain.

After week 20 of pregnancy

Case reports that have been submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed that fetuses who were exposed to NSAIDs in the womb after the 20th week of pregnancy had low levels of amniotic fluid due to the fetus's poor kidney function.

Amniotic fluid surrounds the fetus in the womb and is responsible for developing the lungs, digestive system, and kidneys.

At week 20 of pregnancy, the fetus's kidneys produce the amniotic fluid. Therefore, when given ibuprofen, the kidneys become suppressed and cannot make the amniotic fluid needed for development.

Safer Alternatives to Ibuprofen

An over-the-counter (OTC) medication that is safe in pregnancy is acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol.

While Tylenol is safe to use in pregnancy, there have been reports of sleep problems and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children at the age of 3 who were exposed to Tylenol in the womb.

However, more studies and evidence are needed to provide a direct correlation between the use of Tylenol in pregnancy and ADHD in children. Tylenol is generally considered safe and recommended to take during pregnancy.

Related: Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers in Pregnancy: What's Safe to Take?

Other Ways to Find Pain Relief

Non-medication pain management is the safest way to reduce pain during pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting any of these pain management practices.

Common non-medication management for pain are listed below:

  • Acupuncture

  • Physical Therapy

  • Yoga

  • Massage

  • Hydrotherapy (avoid hot tubs)


Taking ibuprofen at and beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy may cause poor kidney function in the fetus. As a result, the fetus cannot produce enough amniotic fluid to support their development and growth in the womb.

The safest way to manage your pain during pregnancy is through non-medication practices such as physical therapy, yoga, or massages. However, Tylenol is also an acceptable option if non-drug methods fail to provide adequate relief.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.