Is it a problem to take paracetamol in labour?

Why should we think carefully before using or suggesting that women take paracetamol in labour?

Written by ‘the Undercover Midwife’*, this 2015 blog post on Paracetamol and Labour posited the theory that there is a correlation between the increase (as observed by the writer and other midwives) in women having long latent (or prodromal, if you’re in the US) phases of their labour and advice to take paracetamol, often repeatedly, during this time.

It’s a fascinating theory, and one I often discuss in my workshops. Especially when talking about what helps and what hinders the progress of labour.


“I just do not remember, either as an NHS or independent midwife in the 1980s and 1990s, women having such long exhausting and problematic latent phases as they do now. I also don’t remember anyone telling women to “take a couple of paracetamol”. Recently I informally supported someone at home who had had 4 or 5 days of latent labour. I asked her about her paracetamol intake and was shocked to find that she had consumed 25 to 30 grams of paracetamol over that period. The midwives she had been ringing on the local “triage unit”, each one different, had told her to take paracetamol regularly and this she had done. I asked if it was helping and she said it wasn’t, so I suggested she stop taking it which she did. Quite apart from the impact on the liver, could the ubiquitous advice to take paracetamol be impacting on labour and, more particularly be affecting, or even creating, the latent phase of labour as we have come to know it today?” The Undercover Midwife


Quite. This is a great blog post and a truly interesting theory.

If you haven’t yet read and pondered it, I urge you to head over to The Undercover Midwife and read the whole post so you can find out more about it for yourself  You might also be interested in this newer post about paracetamol and pregnancy as well 🙂


* P.S. No, it’s not me. A good number of people have asked me over the years if I am the Undercover Midwife. No, I am not. It takes me enough time to look after and write my own blog, let alone another one. I think she’s rather fabulous though.

photo credit: Leach84 06_Augustr-2467 via photopin (license)

Want to stay up to date and get regular updates on birth-related research and thinking sent free to your inbox?

Sign up to my newsletter list.

Books to help you become informed and make the decisions that are right for you…

5 comments for “Is it a problem to take paracetamol in labour?

Comments are closed.