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Pregnancy Pain Relief

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 3 minutes read

Not all medications are safe in pregnancy.

This is because some medication can cross the placenta and reach the baby. This makes it important to ensure that the medication you are taking doesn’t harm your unborn child and it is always best to speak to your doctor or pharmacist to check that. All painkillers should be taken at the lowest dose necessary, striking a balance between harm to baby and effect on mother. Painkillers are a common medication needed through the many stages of pregnancy, and the Healthwords medical team are here to talk you through the options.

10 non-medical pain relief treatments in pregnancy

Non-medical pain relief treatments can be beneficial during pregnancy to alleviate discomfort and promote relaxation without the use of medication. Here are some non-medical pain relief options commonly recommended for pregnant individuals:

  1. Physical therapy - physical therapy techniques such as gentle stretching, massage, and prenatal exercises can help relieve muscle tension, improve flexibility, and promote overall physical well-being during pregnancy. This is best done with the support of a physiotherapist.

  2. Heat therapy - applying a warm compress or taking a warm bath can help relax muscles, reduce tension, and alleviate pregnancy-related aches and pains, such as back pain and pelvic discomfort.

  3. Cold therapy - using cold packs or ice packs on areas of discomfort can help reduce inflammation and numb sensations of pain. Cold therapy is particularly effective for relieving swelling and discomfort associated with conditions such as pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome. Learn when you would use a heat pack vs an ice pack.

  4. Yoga and Meditation: Practicing prenatal yoga and meditation techniques can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve mindfulness, which can contribute to pain relief and emotional well-being during pregnancy.

  5. Breathing Techniques: Learning and practising deep breathing exercises can help manage pain and discomfort during labour and delivery, as well as promote relaxation and stress relief throughout pregnancy.

  6. Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy, including water aerobics, swimming, and soaking in a warm bath or pool, can help alleviate joint pain, reduce swelling, and promote relaxation during pregnancy.

  7. Maternity Support Belts: Maternity support belts or belly bands provide gentle support to the abdomen and lower back, helping to relieve pressure on the spine, pelvis, and surrounding muscles. These supportive garments can help alleviate discomfort associated with pregnancy-related changes in posture and weight distribution.

  8. Mind-Body Techniques: Mind-body techniques such as guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, and biofeedback can help pregnant individuals manage pain, reduce anxiety, and enhance coping skills during labour and childbirth.

What should I start with?

The first line painkiller and the one that is safe throughout all three trimesters is paracetamol. This doesn’t cause any harm to the baby. Just be sure to take no more than the maximum of eight tablets daily.

Pharmacist recommended products

What about ibuprofen?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, should be avoided unless it is clinically indicated by the doctor or a specialist for a migraine in the first trimester only. After the first trimester, this needs to be stopped as it increases risks to your baby.

Is there anything stronger?

Opioid class of medications, such as codeine, tramadol and morphine, should only be taken on the advice of a doctor or midwife but are usually safe to take during pregnancy. During labour and delivery, they are less safe as It can cause sedating effects on the baby.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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