In a nutshell

It's complicated: get medical advice

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Why is it complicated?

Asprin is a type of drug – like ibuprofen –that's called an NSAID (non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and it's used for pain relief. NICE (the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence, which publishes best-practice guidelines for the NHS) advises that NSAIDs shouldn't be used at all from the 30th week of pregnancy1 (except on the advice of a doctor) because of the risk of neonatal bleeding.

And aspirin itself, at the standard dose of 150mg per day or higher (see below for advice about low-dose aspirin) is generally not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding. There is no clear evidence that this standard dose of aspirin could cause harm to your baby in early pregnancy but experts generally agree that paracetamol should be the painkiller of choice when you're pregnant.2

Saying all that – and here’s the complicated bit – there are particular situations in pregnancy where blood clots are likely to cause miscarriage and aspirin is advised because of its role in the prevention of blood clots.

My advice would be to avoid aspirin in pregnancy unless you are specifically advised by a doctor to take it.

What if I take aspirin for a certain condition already?

Low-dose aspirin (a 75mg, sometimes 150mg, dose) may be taken if you are pregnant (or breastfeeding) and you have a conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. It is also used to prevent or treat pre-eclampsia (a condition that causes potentially serious high blood pressure in pregnancy).

Speak to your doctor if you are taking aspirin for another reason: you may be advised to continue, depending on your condition. Many women who have a condition which may make their blood sticky, such as lupus or anti phospholipid syndrome, are advised to take aspirin during pregnancy, for example.

Doesn't aspirin help you when you're pregnant again after miscarriage?

You may have heard that taking aspirin could help prevent another pregnancy loss if you've already lost a baby. Unfortunately, there isn't any conclusive evidence that this is true.

I'd advise you to speak to your GP if you want more information on aspirin usage following the loss of a baby, or if you are trying to conceive after a miscarriage.

Please do not start taking aspirin without speaking to your doctor first.

About our expert Dr Philippa Kaye

Dr Philippa Kaye works as a GP in both NHS and private practice. She attended Downing College, Cambridge, then took medical studies at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s medical schools in London, training in paediatrics, gynaecology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, psychiatry and general practice. Dr Philippa has also written a number of books, including ones on child health, diabetes in childhood and adolescence. She is a mum of 3.

Pic: Getty

References

1 'NSAIDS: Prescribing issues'. NICE CKS. Last revised April 2020.
2 ''Pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility while taking aspirin for pain relief'. NHS Online. Last updated December 2021.

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