What is codeine?

For a lot of pregnant women, severe conditions such as SPD, sciatica or back pain could be a real problem that makes them feel annoying and uncomfortable. Therefore, they often need to take some medicine that would prevent or treat these issues. And codeine is one of the most popular choice during pregnancy.


In general, codeine is a kind of medicine called opioid, which is often used as a mild painkiller to treat pain, cough or diarrhea. However, it could have some side effects in you as well as your baby. Thus you should always ask for advice from doctor to use codeine during pregnancy.

Is it safe to take codeine during pregnancy?

This is a question with yes and no answer. When you decide to take codeine during your pregnancy, it would be essential to consider the advantages as well as potential risks, which are often depended on different stages of pregnancy. For a couple of pregnant women, treating by codeine might be necessary.

In general, most of internal organs and body of your baby would be formed after 12 weeks of pregnancy. And many people believe that several types of medicine, including codeine, would lead to birth defects. However, there are not any scientific evidences to prove this connection.

In other cases, there is a possibility that using codeine would have an enduring impact on a baby’s behavior or learning ability. This is mainly because the brain of your kid is still in process of developing until the end of your pregnancy. However, there are also not obvious study implemented to shed the light on this question.

Potential risks of using codeine during pregnancy

As mentioned on the above section, using codeine during pregnancy would not related the increase miscarriage or birth defects. However, there are still some potential risks:

  • One of the main worry is that frequent use of codeine during pregnancy might lead to tolerance and dependence in a mom, thereby having lasting effects for a newborn baby.
  • The use of this medicine in a pregnant mother might be also possible to damage lung function of a baby.

In general, a doctor will be the best person that would give you suitable advice on what is good or bad for your baby.

How should you use codeine during pregnancy?

  • Codeine could be used with or without foods.
  • It would depend on your age, the treated conditions, your liver and kidney function and your age for a doctor to prescribe the dose of codeine. Therefore, it is essential to follow the advice of the doctor to make sure that it is definitely safe when using codeine during pregnancy.
  • When you do not remember taking a dose of codeine or just forget the missed dose. Bear in mind not to use a double one to make up for the missed one.
  • Do not take the codeine more regularly and for a longer time, or more than prescribed amount of codeine that your doctor suggested. This is mainly because using codeine frequently in a long time could result in addiction, which would make a mom to feel irritable and restless easily once she stop using the codeine.
  • If your symptoms still persist in spite of treatment, you should look for medical advice immediately from a pharmacist or doctor.

Important information to know about using codeine

  • This type of medicine would lead to blurred vision, confusion, dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Remember not to drink alcohol when you are taking codeine mainly because it is possible to make all of effects above become worse.
  • The ways our body metabolizes codeine are not the same. For several people, it might result in an increased possibility of having side effects, including slow or shallow breathing, sleepiness, decreased level of consciousness; constipation, vomiting or nausea, and lack of appetite. For other moms, it might indicate that the medicine is less effective.
  • If you use codeine often in a long period of time, then your body could become tolerant or addicted to it. This makes it less effective in relieving your pain. In other words, the body might be independent on this painkiller after prolonged use. Therefore, remember to ask for your doctor’s advice before using it.
  • Taking this kind of painkiller for a long time or too frequently to treat your headaches could actually make it worse.

Nancy D. Richardson

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