You may think you are heading to the store to buy a simple, over-the-counter (OTC) painkiller, but you could be putting your unborn baby at risk of fetal complications. Just because a medication is available to purchase without a prescription does not mean it is always safe for use during pregnancy. 

Advil

Advil is a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). This NSAID falls into category C for the first 30 weeks of pregnancy, but the last 10 weeks the drug is moved to pregnancy category D. 

Advil Migraine

Advil Migraine contains Advil and thus it is also placed on the do not use list for pregnant women. 

Aleve

Aleve is another NSAID that pregnant women should avoid. There is at least one report of a newborn death associated with naproxen, the generic name for Aleve. The naproxen is thought to have inhibited fetal prostaglandin synthesis resulting in pulmonary hypertension that led to death. 

Excedrin Migraine

Excedrin Migraine is a combination medication that contains acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. Acetaminophen is generally considered safe during pregnancy, but aspirin falls into pregnancy category D in the third trimester and caffeine intake should be reduced during pregnancy based on several clinical studies.

Motrin Migraine Pain

Motrin Migraine Pain contains an NSAID (like Advil and Aleve) which accounts for the contraindication in pregnancy. While we could not find any indication that Motrin Migraine Pain contained caffeine, most OTC migraine medications are combination drugs that contain caffeine. 

Before using any OTC medication for the treatment of pain during pregnancy, ask your doctor for an approved list of OTC pain medications. While these OTC drugs may be part of your pain management routine, during pregnancy you should choose a safer alternative. If pain is persistent and or approved OTC medications do not relieve pain, talk to your physician.