Can You Take Sudafed While Pregnant?

Can You Take Sudafed While Pregnant?

Coming down with a cold is never fun — and especially not when you’re pregnant.

You may already be dealing with pregnancy symptoms like fatigue and nausea.

Adding congestion and a fever to the mix can literally make you break into a cold sweat.

So what can you do about it? Is taking Sudafed while pregnant an option?

Don’t worry, mama — help is on the way.

In this article: 📝

  • What is Sudafed?
  • Is Sudafed safe during pregnancy?
  • The risks of taking Sudafed during pregnancy
  • How much Sudafed can I take while pregnant?

What is Sudafed?

Sudafed is the brand name for different OTC (over-the-counter) meds used to treat cold and flu symptoms — think head and nasal congestion, coughs, fevers, and aches.

All Sudafed products contain a nasal decongestant, either pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine.

This may sound promising if you have caught a cold or the flu during your pregnancy. (Urgh, if only those viruses could take a nine-month sabbatical while you’re growing your baby).

Sudafed may also sound like a great idea if you’ve found yourself in the congested world of pregnancy rhinitis.

This inflammation of the mucus membrane in your nasal passages happens in somewhere around 22% of pregnancies.

We’re not totally sure what causes pregnancy rhinitis — but the suspicion is pregnancy hormones.

Whatever is at the root, finding some relief may feel like a matter of urgency.

So now for the question of the day: can you take Sudafed while pregnant?

Is Sudafed safe during pregnancy?

Sudafed during pregnancy can be taken in some pregnancies — but with two important caveats:

  1. It’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor, particularly if you have other health conditions.
  2. It’s best to wait until the second trimester before taking pseudoephedrine.

Here’s why it’s important to be cautious:

The risks of taking Sudafed during pregnancy

If you have a hypertensive disorder like preeclampsia, you should speak to your doctor before taking Sudafed.

That’s because pseudoephedrine can raise your blood pressure and cause your heart to race.

If you are already struggling with hypertension, Sudafed could make matters worse.

Pseudoephedrine also causes vasoconstriction, which is where your blood vessels narrow, causing your blood flow to areas of your body like the placenta to reduce.

This could get in the way of your baby’s development and be dangerous for you if you have a heart condition.

There is also some evidence to suggest that pseudoephedrine has a small link to a rare birth difference called gastroschisis.

This is where a baby’s organs protrude out of their body due to a defect in the abdominal wall next to their belly button.

The research into how big of a link this condition has to taking Sudafed is mixed.

(This study said that there is no significant danger, for example.)

So it may be best to be extra cautious.

It’s usually recommended to use Sudafed if the benefits outweigh the risks.

The risk is greatest in your first trimester, when your baby is busy forming all of their vital systems.

That’s why the recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is to avoid any products with pseudoephedrine during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

But whether this means it is safe to take after the first 3 months isn’t quite as clear.

Dr. Fatema M Dawoodbhoy says, “There are other safer alternatives such as chlorpheniramine, hydroxyzine and dexchlorpheniramine, so if in doubt, stick to those”.

How much Sudafed can I take while pregnant?

Take the least amount possible.

(This is generally a good rule when it comes to pregnancy and medication.)

The word from the US pharmacist is that an appropriate dose is 30 to 60 mg every four to six hours as needed, with a maximum of 240 mg a day.

But check in with your doctor first, particularly if you have other health conditions.

Other pain medications that are safe to use right now?

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the hot favorite when you’re pregnant.

Some of our Peanut mamas have also taken Theraflu, which is generally safe in small doses, but it’s best to check with your doctor, just in case.

NSAIDs, on the other hand, such as ibuprofen (Advil), are not as well-loved.

They should be avoided after 20 weeks as they have been linked to serious health complications for your baby.

Finally, here are some other tips for managing a cold while you’re pregnant:

  • Rest. Getting adequate sleep is generally important when you’re pregnant, and even more so when you’re sick. (We know this can be difficult when you’re contending with a growing belly and pregnancy symptoms. Do what you can.)
  • Drink plenty of water. Aim for 8 to 12 glasses when you’re pregnant — and this is even more important if you’re not feeling great.
  • Place a warm compress over your head and sinuses. This can help reduce pain.
  • Use a room humidifier. This might help with congestion and coughs.
  • Take zinc supplements. Zinc can help with colds. (Bonus — it may also help reduce the risk of preterm births.)
  • Get the nutrients you need. Here’s our guide to a healthy pregnancy diet.

As always, if you’re not sure whether you can take Sudafed while pregnant (or any other medication), it’s best to check with your healthcare provider first.

Get well soon, mama. ❤️


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