Can I take allergy medication while pregnant?

Ah, allergies. Unless you have them, very few people can appreciate how awful they can be. So if you need to take allergy medication during pregnancy you can imagine how uptight some people get about it and wonder why you don’t just suffer through it. To these people I say, “suck my snot.”

Not unlike cold medication, the trick here is to take medication that has been around a long time. Nobody has ever raised their hand and said, “use me and my unborn child as guinea pigs to test your fine medication, my good sir.” so all the data has to be collected over years and years of medical findings to see if kids are growing seven belly buttons from a medication.

The ones that have been deemed low risk (no risk would be taking nothing and sitting in a puddle of snot) are Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and Loratadine (Claritin). Some sites say Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) is okay if you’re out of your first trimester, but a few other sites say to stay away from it all together. I’m not sure if there is merit to this or they are just giving it the thumbs down on account of the first trimester iffyness.


Benadryl seems to be the across the board favourite as being a safe medication to for allergies when you’re pregnant. It’s been around since 1946 and it’s a first-generation antihistamine. The downside to that is it will make you groggy because the newer drugs (second-generations) are the ones that have the non-drowsy formulas but they aren’t as tried and true. It’s a bit of kick in the ass because you’re probably already tired but it may be a good night time option if you’re just looking to get some sleep.

Another interesting tidbit I found is that many women are prescribed antihistamines for morning sickness. Who knew?

There are quite a few non-medical, natural remedies out there as well.

Neti pots are awesome plus Dr. Oz did a demo on Oprah with one – I mean, c’mon what the hell else do you need?! They are kind of freaky the first time you use them but I do find they are great for nasal congestion. As great as they are, if you’re really stuffed up you’ll still probably have to get out the big antihistamine guns.

As for nasal sprays, only saline nasal sprays have been given the thumbs up. Everybody gets really pissy about the good stuff like Otrivin – because even though they haven’t be shown to cause birth defects, they haven’t be shown not to either.

I couldn’t find any herbal remedies that everyone could agree on which isn’t surprising because of the lack of research behind most herbs.

At the end of the day, if you can handle your allergies by having a hot shower and blowing your nose, great. But if you’re congested to the point where you think your head is going to roll off or you sound like Darth Vader when you’re lying in bed, take something. I’m sure all parties involve would be happier if mamma could breathe and have a full night of sleep.


search: antihistamines during pregnancy, allergy medication pregnant, safe allergy medication during pregnancy

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  • I have cold urticaria and took Reactine (Zyrtec in the US) before getting pregnant. I stopped once I got pregnant because it was summer time and I wasn’t suffering too much, and I figured that the fewer medications I took, the better. However, with fall upon us and winter looming, I called Motherisk to see what they had to say about resuming the Reactine – especially since I would already be in my third trimester. They assured me that it was very safe and that I could take it without worry. (A friend of mine who has heat urticaria took it throughout her pregnancy and her daughter had no ill effects whatsoever.)

  • I was told Zyrtec was best and Claritin was questionable, so to stay away. Hate to see conflicting info! Hope my doctor was not mistaken, yikes.

  • I’m a Zyrtec user but only need it in the winter (my allergies are activated by the closing up of my house in the cold season). My (amazing) OB told me that if it’s a matter of being able to breathe or having to suffer through a head full of snot, that the little chalupa really likes it when mama can breathe. I neti pot all year round to help keep things in check, which has helped greatly with the standard pregnancy congestion so far, though winter is just around the corner here…

  • Nettle tea and acupuncture! I had the most ridiculous grass allergy and in a very high grass pollen area and was medicating up the wazoo. It was expensive. Now I only need like 1 acupuncture treatment a year (after that first year of many treatments) and make a cup of nettle tea on a really bad day.

  • I know this is an old post, but it's allergy season again and I wanted to pass on some info that my allergist told me at my last visit (a few months ago when I was trying to conceive, and now I just found out I'm pregnant!)

    I take Xyzal (levocetirizine) and my doctor says it's fine during pregnancy. It's similar to Zyrtec, but just works better for me and doesn't leave me so groggy like Zyrtec did – probably because it's a 3rd generation antihistimine and doesn't pass the blood/brain barrier as much as 1st and 2nd gen. Instead of taking a full pill at bedtime, I find it works best for me if I split it and take half in the AM and half before bed.

    I also take Singulair daily for allergen-induced asthma, the allergist says it's very safe too.

    I take Rhinocort Aqua, a nasal steroid spray, two puffs in each nostril daily. This one I was worried about because it's a steroid but my allergist assures me that it's so safe, it's often prescribed for newborns and small kids with upper respiratory inflammation. It's supposedly the only nasal spray that's category B rather than C.

    Sinus wash/neti pot also help a lot. I ALWAYS use distilled water, never tap, and I warm it up a bit in the microwave because cold neti pot water makes me feel like I'm drowning.

    In an ideal world I'd love to stop taking everything but I just can't breathe, sleep, or function during allergy season. And that's when I'm not pregnant…I can't imagine trying to fight through allergies and feeling shitty pregnancy symptoms or taking care of a baby all at once. Fuck that.

  • Diclectin which is normally used for morning sickness is actually the safest antihistamine out there for a pregant woman. My allergist put me on it for this pregnancy, and took me off Reactine & Benedryl. I also carry an epipen and agree that if you truly need it use it… Your baby is no better off if you stop breathing.

  • I was told to use Zyrtec and did. I continued after pregnancy. At 19 months my baby was put on the children's version. That's when we found that instead of becoming drowsy he became a hyperactive insomniac. Which explained why he had never slept well his whole life (as in up basically every 20 minutes most nights until 10 months and there after improving very slowly). I breast feed. Since I've stopped taking Zyrtec he is finally only up 1 or 2 times a night. I wonder now if he was completely wound up and unable to ret while in the womb as well. His reaction is quite unusual. I am constantly quite sick without the Zyrtec, but I don't know if I will dare take it if I get pregnant again.

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