Allergies aren’t much fun at the best of times—whether you’re sneezing from hay fever or longing to scratch that itchy rash.
And when you’re expecting a baby, those allergy symptoms can feel even more intense.
So you might wonder whether it’s safe to use your usual allergy medication right now. Can you take Benadryl while pregnant?
The short answer is: Yes, you can.
Benadryl (the brand name for a drug called diphenhydramine) has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe to use during pregnancy. It’s not believed to pose any risk to you or your baby.
Read on for more info about Benadryl and pregnancy, as well as tips on non-medical ways to soothe those allergy symptoms. 🤧
In this article 📝
- What is Benadryl?
- Can you take Benadryl while pregnant?
- Can Benadryl cause miscarriage?
- Can Benadryl cause birth defects?
- How much Benadryl can you take while pregnant?
- Alternatives to Benadryl during pregnancy
What is Benadryl?
Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is one of a group of medications called antihistamines.
These are used to help ease your symptoms when you have an allergic reaction that’s caused by breathing in pollen, dust, mold, or pet dander. Or if your skin is sensitive to certain chemicals in soaps, shampoos, or cleaning products.
What you experience as an annoying allergy symptom is actually your immune system’s way of trying to protect your body from something it sees as a threat.
Antihistamines work by helping your immune system calm down, which causes the symptoms to ease up.
The kinds of symptoms Benadryl can help with include:
- Watery eyes.
- Itchy skin and rashes.
You can buy Benadryl over the counter at most pharmacies. It comes as a tablet to take orally, or as a gel or cream to apply to your skin.
Can you take Benadryl while pregnant?
So, yes, as we saw above, Benadryl has been classed as safe for use during pregnancy by the FDA.
But it’s still a good plan to chat with your healthcare provider before you take it—just to make sure it’s the right treatment for you.
Let’s tackle a couple of specific concerns you might have about taking Benadryl with a baby on the way:
Can Benadryl cause miscarriage?
Scientists haven’t discovered any link between Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and miscarriage.
One 2014 study looked into whether taking antihistamines (including diphenhydramine) in early pregnancy could be associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, but they found no evidence that this was the case.
Can Benadryl cause birth defects?
Research from some smaller, older studies suggested that taking antihistamines such as diphenhydramine during pregnancy could lead to a higher risk of some birth differences (including cleft lip and palate).
But more recent, larger-scale studies, such as this one from 2013, have found no link between antihistamines and birth differences.
A review by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had similarly reassuring results.
They found that “H1” class antihistamines (including Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec) have been widely studied and don’t seem to increase the risk of birth differences.
How much Benadryl can you take while pregnant?
It’s fine to take the standard dose of Benadryl when you’re pregnant.
A good rule of thumb, though, is to take the lowest amount possible for the shortest time possible.
That should help minimize any side effects from the meds (which you really don’t need on top of any pregnancy symptoms!).
Common side effects are:
- Feeling sleepy.
- Dry mouth, nose, or throat.
More rarely, you might experience:
- Feeling dizzy.
- Congestion in your chest.
- Feeling anxious.
Check-in with your healthcare provider before taking Benadryl (or other antihistamines).
They’ll be able to advise you on how much to take and confirm that Benadryl won’t interact negatively with any other medication you might need.
Alternatives to Benadryl during pregnancy
If your doctor has advised against taking Benadryl, or you’ve found the side effects too troublesome, there are a number of non-medical remedies that could provide relief from your allergy symptoms.
Here’s what you can try:
- Rinsing your nostrils regularly with sterile water using something like a neti pot
- Dabbing petroleum jelly (Vaseline) around the entrance to your nostrils, to help trap any dust or pollen
- Using saline nasal drops or eye drops (available at most pharmacies)
- Gargling with salt water
You can also aim to limit your exposure to whatever it is that sets off your allergies.
For example, you can try avoiding the great outdoors when there’s a high pollen count, or vacuuming regularly to remove dust.
And you can politely ask your friend to leave their cute-but-sneeze-inducing pup at home. 🐶
Whatever it takes, mama!
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