Parents to be: Can I take co-codamol while pregnant?

May 7, 2021
3 minute read

Co-codamol is a commonly used medication that is comprised of a combination of two different painkillers: paracetamol and codeine. It is primarily used for the treatment of moderate pain. Co-codamol is the generic name for the medication however you may be familiar with branded names such as Kapake, Solpadol and Tylex.

Co-codamol is a stronger painkiller and is used in cases where medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin or paracetamol alone are not effective at treating your pain. Because co-codamol already contains paracetamol, it’s important to not take any additional paracetamol along with it, as it may lead to an overdose.

Co-codamol can be addictive and taking more than the prescribed dose can be harmful, therefore, only consume the prescribed amount. Always follow the instructions given by your GP or pharmacist and do not self-medicate.

In this blog, we discuss whether co-codamol is suitable to be taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Is co-codamol safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Co-codamol is not recommended to take during pregnancy, as codeine may cause potential issues to the unborn baby.

It’s also not recommended to take co-codamol while breastfeeding, as the codeine in co-codamol can get into the breast milk and could cause breathing problems in your baby.

If you have any questions about taking co-codamol during your pregnancy, please get in touch with our Pharmacy team. Our friendly Pharmacists are here to provide free, professional advice for everyone.

What problems can co-codamol cause during pregnancy?

Some research studies have provided evidence that taking codeine during the third trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects.

Another study reported that taking codeine at any point during a pregnancy was associated with planned Cesarean delivery, while taking codeine during the third trimester was associated with emergency Cesarean delivery, and heavy bleeding after birth.

While these results have not been definitively established (other studies have failed to replicate these results), the precautionary medical recommendation is to avoid taking co-codamol or codeine during pregnancy while research continues.  

Need to treat pain during your pregnancy? Paracetamol is the safest choice

What is known with more certainty is that taking codeine shortly before delivery can temporarily affect the baby’s breathing, which can require close monitoring. Moreover, taking codeine for a longer period of time near to the end of the pregnancy may cause withdrawal symptoms in the baby after birth. This is known as neonatal withdrawal.

In some special cases, codeine and co-codamol may be appropriate to take during your pregnancy. We recommend that you always speak to your GP before taking any medication during your pregnancy.

Which painkillers are safe to take during pregnancy?

In a previous blog, we discussed how taking ibuprofen and aspirin during pregnancy is also not recommended. The evidence linking ibuprofen and aspirin to birth defects, risk of miscarriage and other problems is stronger than in the case of co-codamol and codeine.

Paracetamol remains the safest choice of painkiller to take during a pregnancy. While paracetamol is generally regarded as safe to take, it’s recommended that you take the lowest dosage possible, for the shortest time possible.

For more information, please refer to the official NHS Medicines in Pregnancy guide.

When becoming a new parent, there’s so much to think about. Let us take one thing off your mind. Switch to Phlo Digital Pharmacy today, and we’ll provide free, reliable medication delivery to your doorstep, when and where you need it.


Content last reviewed on:
August 18, 2023
Next review date:
August 18, 2025
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