It's allergy season (which sometimes seems to be year-round) and you're itchy, sneezing, coughing, and have constantly watery eyes. You're also pregnant, which can make runny nose and other allergy symptoms worse.
So is taking an anti-allergy medication like Benadryl safe for your bun in the oven?
More than 90 percent of women take over-the-counter or prescription drugs during pregnancy. But you are right to review all medications during pregnancy. Even some OTC can cause side effects or be harmful.
However, remember that no drug is
100 percent safe during pregnancy. Take Benadryl only when needed and exactly
as your doctor has told you.
What Are Some Reasons People Take Benadryl During Pregnancy?
Benadryl is a brand name for the drug diphenhydramine (you may see this chemical name on generic brands). It's an antihistamine. This means it helps calm your immune system so it doesn't overreact to pollen, dust, cats and other allergens.
Taking Benadryl can give you relief from allergies, asthma, hay fever and cold symptoms such as:
- Itchy eyes, nose or throat
- Runny nose
- Traffic jam
- Watery eyes
- Itching of the skin
- Skin rash
This OTC drug is also used to stop
or relieve dizziness, nausea, and vomiting due to car or motion sickness. Since
it can make you drowsy, some women also use it to help with insomnia during
You're not the only one looking for allergy relief during pregnancy. Up to 15 percent of women in the United States report taking antihistamines like Benadryl during pregnancy. Medical research shows that Benadryl is most likely safe for your growing baby.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that Benadryl belongs to a group of antihistamines called H₁. This group has been tested in many research studies and found to be safe during pregnancy.
Other brand-name allergy medications in this family of antihistamines are Claritin and Zyrtec. Doxylamine, another H₁ antihistamine commonly used to treat insomnia in pregnancy, is considered safe. You may know it by the brand name Unisom.
Another type of allergy
antihistamine is called H₂. This species has been tested in fewer medical
studies and may not be safe during pregnancy. OTC antihistamines in this group
include Pepcid, Zantac and Tagamet - these should only be used under the
supervision of a doctor.
What about the first trimester?
You are right to be careful throughout pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. In this exciting time—when you haven't even started presenting—much of the action happens quietly.
Although your little bean is only about 3 inches long by week 12, they will have developed all of their major organ systems — heart, brain, lungs, everything — by the first trimester
This also makes the first 12 weeks of pregnancy one of the riskiest. During the first trimester, your baby is most vulnerable to harm from alcohol, drugs, illness, and medication.
The Slone Center's Birth Defect Study surveyed nearly 51,000 mothers over a period of about 40 years. There have been safety assessments for drugs commonly used during pregnancy. The highest rating a drug can have is "good" and the lowest is "none".
This large study gave diphenhydramine a high success rate of "fair". For this reason, your doctor will likely tell you that it's best to only take Benadryl if you absolutely have to during your first trimester of pregnancy.
This could be because older
studies (some several decades old) reported that Benadryl could cause birth
abnormalities. Recent research has not confirmed this.
Possible harm to the baby
As mentioned earlier, some early studies reported that taking Benadryl and other drugs with diphenhydramine could cause birth abnormalities. These included cleft lip and palate and other upper mouth and lower nose development problems.
However, several recent medical
studies have found that diphenhydramine does not cause these or other birth
abnormalities at all. This research shows that Benadryl is safe to take at any
stage of your pregnancy, even in the first trimester.
Side effects for mom
Benadryl is a drug, and it can still cause the usual side effects for everyone. You may be more sensitive to Benadryl than you normally are during pregnancy.
Take Benadryl sparingly. Try less
than the recommended dose to see if you might not need more. It's also worth
noting now that you can pass Benadryl to your child through your breast milk
after you give birth, so it's not a bad idea to get used to taking less now.
The usual side effects of Benadryl
- Headache pain
- Dry mouth and nose
- Dry throat
Less common Benadryl side effects
that can still hit like a brick wall during pregnancy include:
- Chest congestion
Alternatives to Benadryl
Whether you typically take Benadryl for allergy relief or to get some much-needed sleep, there are natural alternatives that might work for you.
Try these pregnancy-safe home
remedies to relieve allergy symptoms:
- With saline nasal drops
- With saline eye drops
- Washing the nostrils with sterile water
- Place petroleum jelly (petroleum jelly) around the opening of your nostrils
- Gargling with salt water for a sore or scratchy throat
Always consult a doctor before taking any dietary supplement, especially during pregnancy. You might want to ask about the following:
- Locally produced pasteurized honey
- Pregnancy-safe, low-mercury fish oil supplements
Natural remedies to get you
- Lavender essential oil
- Chamomile Essential Oil
- Meditation before bed
- Warm milk
- Take that away
Benadryl is considered safe totake during pregnancy. Doctors and nurses recommend this OTC medication for relieving allergy symptoms, even during pregnancy.
Recent studies have found Benadryl to be safe. However, always remember that no drug — prescription or over-the-counter — is ever 100 percent safe during pregnancy. Benadryl and other drugstore drugs are still powerful drugs. They can also have unwanted side effects.
Take Benadryl sparingly and only when you really need it. You can try natural remedies instead (after confirming their safety with your doctor) to relieve your allergy symptoms.