Can You Take Tylenol While Pregnant?

Pregnancy brings a lot of rules regarding food, drinks, and medication. We turned to experts to learn whether Tylenol is safe while expecting.

pregnant person taking a pill

damircudic/Getty Images

Between all of the headaches, backaches, and you-name-it-aches that come along with pregnancy, a good pain reliever is an absolute necessity. Many parents-to-be often wonder which medications are off the table, leading to a big question about a common household staple: Is it safe to take Tylenol while pregnant?

Thankfully, Tylenol, also known as acetaminophen, is considered a safe option for you and your unborn baby. 

“Tylenol is safe to use during all three trimesters,” explains Jian Jenny Tang, M.D., an OB-GYN at Mount Sinai Hospital and Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “There is no strong evidence that consuming Tylenol causes adverse pregnancy outcomes such as increased risk of pregnancy loss, congenital anomalies, or neurodevelopmental delay.”

Kyler Silver, M.D., an OB-GYN and the Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, also tells Parents, “[Tylenol] is the safest option we have.”

As long as you stick to the appropriate dose, Tylenol offers safe, much-needed relief for anyone dealing with the aches and pains of growing a tiny human

How Much Tylenol Is Safe While Pregnant?

During pregnancy, the daily maximum dose of Tylenol is 3,000 mg, says Dr. Silver. That said, she recommends sticking to the minimum amount possible. “The general rule in pregnancy is to take the lowest dose for the least amount of time,” she says. 

Dr. Tang adds that 650 mg every 6 hours (with a max dose of 3,000 mg) is suitable. A “therapeutic” dose is around 1,000 mg to get rid of headaches and other nagging pains.

In terms of frequency, Dr. Silver explains that while Tylenol can be taken fairly regularly for headaches, backaches, cramps, fever, or other pain, it’s still important to monitor your intake. If you're experiencing chronic pain, consider speaking with a health care provider about alternatives, and be sure to communicate your symptoms in the event there's an underlying cause beyond the expected aches and pains of pregnancy.

However, if you have specific allergies to certain medications or a history of any liver disease, you should be sure to consult with a health care professional before consuming Tylenol.

Key Takeaway

Tylenol is safe during pregnancy for periodical aches and pains. Be sure that you're following the recommended dosage on the bottle, and note that the maximum daily amount is 3,000 mg. If you're experiencing chronic pain or severe discomfort, please consult with a health care professional.

Is Tylenol During Pregnancy Linked to ADHD and Autism in Children?

Recently, there have been a number of lawsuits that suggest Tylenol during pregnancy leads to ADHD and autism in children. Although alarming, there is reassuring evidence that acetaminophen (the main active ingredient in Tylenol) is still considered safe while pregnant.

Dr. Tang points to a FDA Drug Safety Communication assessment that looked at all available evidence and found inconclusive data regarding a possible connection between acetaminophen use in pregnancy and ADHD. Moreover, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (which specializes in high-risk pregnancies) confirmed these findings, also stating that acetaminophen is still an appropriate medication for those who are pregnant.

When it comes to the link between Tylenol and Autism, Dr. Silver notes that more research is needed to determine if acetaminophen is a direct cause. “There are studies showing correlations between [Tylenol during pregnancy] and Autism, but there’s no randomized, double-blind control studies. They show a correlation but not a causation,” she points out. 

Furthering this point, Professor Xiaobin Wang, the corresponding author of a Johns Hopkins University study that shows a correlation between Tylenol and Autism and ADHD, states that the data should not be interpreted that Tylenol is the cause of the two disorders, and that more studies are needed to clarify the possible connection.

While we may never be 100% sure about a medication’s safety during pregnancy, Dr. Silver believes the evidence suggests that Tylenol is still a suitable solution for pain.

Other Methods of Pain Relief While Pregnant

If you’re looking for pain relief outside of medication, there are quite a few safe alternatives. Dr. Tang recommends relaxation techniques, getting enough sleep (always easier said than done, we know!), practicing stress management, or trying aromatherapy with essential oils like lemongrass and lavender.  

Exercise offers a lot of benefits during pregnancy, including pain relief—and you can safely work out during all three trimesters, with some minor adjustments to protect your abdomen from falls or impact. Of course, be sure to speak with a health care professional before beginning any new workout regiment while expecting.

For back pain in particular, massages, belly bands, or a visit to the chiropractor can also be effective, says Dr. Silver. As for headaches? “Caffeine works really well,” she says. “Just a little dose of coffee [can solve] the problem.” She recommends sticking to a maximum of 200 mg a day, which equals about two cups or 12 oz total.

When to Contact a Health Care Provider

If any pregnancy pain you experience is causing you to take the maximum dose of Tylenol on a daily basis, it’s best to contact a health care professional. “If you’re a chronic Tylenol-taker, have a conversation with your doctor to make sure you're maximizing the alternatives,” says Dr. Silver. 

While occasional headaches are to be expected during pregnancy, a severe headache that will not go away could be a sign of something more serious, such as preeclampsia. Additionally, if you suffer from migraines, it’s important to speak with your doctor about appropriate treatments. 

Of course, if any pain you are experiencing is concerning, especially headaches that cause dizziness, blurred vision, or fainting, intense back pain, or cramps accompanied by bleeding, always contact an OB-GYN or health care provider right away. While pregnancy can come with a variety of aches and pains, you know your body best—and it always helps to get a little reassurance from a physician that you and your baby are staying as healthy as possible. 

Was this page helpful?
Parents uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Reuters. Mass tort launched for claims that acetaminophen caused autism, ADHD.

  2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA has reviewed possible risks of pain medicine use during pregnancy.

  3. Prenatal acetaminophen use and outcomes in childrenAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2017;216(3):B14-B15. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2017.01.021

  4. Bittker SS, Bell KR. Postnatal Acetaminophen and Potential Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Males. Behav Sci (Basel). 2020 Jan 1;10(1):26. doi: 10.3390/bs10010026.

  5. Ji Y, Azuine RE, Zhang Y, et al. Association of Cord Plasma Biomarkers of In Utero Acetaminophen Exposure With Risk of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder in ChildhoodJAMA Psychiatry. 2020;77(2):180–189. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.3259

Related Articles