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Allergy Medicine While Breastfeeding

Allergy Medicine While Breastfeeding: Is It Safe to Take?

It is pretty challenging to take allergy medicine while breastfeeding. For your safety and that of your infant, you must know which medications are safe to take and specific ones that suit your current condition.

That is why it is essential to always keep in touch with your doctor before taking an OTC allergy medicine.

This blog post will explain the details of allergy medicines while breastfeeding.

Like with other medications, it is vital to speak with a healthcare provider (pediatrician, midwife or physician) before taking any new allergy medicine while breastfeeding.

The allergy season can linger for a long while in the Midwest region. And these allergies can affect your ability to feel your best while caring for your baby.

While it is easy to walk up to a drug store or pharmacy and get any OTC allergy medicines, you may need to apply caution in treating your allergy symptoms while breastfeeding.

Some of the most common questions breastfeeding mothers ask include “Which allergy medications are considered safe to take?” and “What medication will decrease my milk supply?”

Many allergy medicines are considered safe for use while nursing and will not affect your breast milk supply.

Notwithstanding, it helps identify which allergy symptom you are trying to treat when you decide to take a medication.

See also: Breastfeeding While Sick: What Medicine Can I Take?

Is It Safe to Take Allergy Medicine While Breastfeeding?

You might have heard that it is not safe to take any medicine while pregnant or nursing.

While this is true for some medications, there are allergy medicines that are safe during breastfeeding.

And so you don’t need to suffer through the allergy symptoms while breastfeeding.

So before you take allergy medicine while breastfeeding, consider these three factors below:

  • The effect allergy medication will have on you.
  • How it will affect your baby
  • Finally, how it’s likely to affect your milk production.

And if you have finally decided to sake and allergy medicine while breastfeeding, ensure to contact your healthcare provider first.

If your condition is minimal, your doctor, midwife or pharmacist may recommend eye drops or saline nose to ease dry and itchy eyes and stuffiness.

Alternatively, you can treat these allergies while breastfeeding with allergen immunotherapy or allergy injections.

Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters states that there is no evidence that prescribers or recipients of allergen immunotherapy while breastfeeding and their breastfed children are at increased risk.

On the other hand, if you experience continuous uncontrolled allergy symptoms, you can also get oral allergy medicines that are safe while breastfeeding.

The Risks of Allergy Medicine While Breastfeeding

As a result of the lack of studies on pregnant and nursing women, allergy medicine poses a risk. The baby is at risk because of this.

Consequently, there are often insufficient data to say whether a drug is completely safe and has no potential side effects.

Types of Allergy Medications and Their Functions

Antihistamines

These types of drugs directly block your body’s histamine receptors, thus preventing the histamine response.

Decongestants

They work by contracting blood vessels in the body, thereby reducing inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages.

Corticosteroids

Like decongestants, corticosteroids offer short-term relief. However, instead of narrowing blood vessels in the body, it eases symptoms because the steroid’s synthetic substance is related to cortisol.

Mast Cell Stabilizers

These stabilizers prevent histamine release. They do this by blocking cell degranulation (releasing extra allergy-symptom-producing substances) and stabilizing the mast cells.

Leukotriene Inhibitors

The ease allergy symptoms by preventing the Leukotriene chemical, therefore, blocking 5-lipoxygenase activity.

Immunotherapy

A medication that habituatilize your body system to the allergen as you gradually increase the exposure dosage.

Emergency Epinephrine

Emergency Epinephrines reverse the symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction as they constrict blood vessels and raise blood pressure.

Safe Allergy Medicine While Breastfeeding

Based on the symptoms of your allergies as a pregnant woman, there are more appropriate prescription and OTC medications to take.

For Itchy Eyes and Nasal Drainage

Eye irritation and nasal drainage are two of the most common allergy symptoms.

Both conditions result from an allergic reaction, specifically through the release of histamines.

When you experience these symptoms, you should consider taking antihistamines, which are deemed safe for your baby and your breast milk supply.

Zyrtec (Cetirizine)

The preferred antihistamine to take while breastfeeding is Zyrtec.

Additionally, other second-generation antihistamines are also considered safe, but there is less research supporting their use.

These include Xyzal (levocetirizine), Claritin (loratadine), and Allegra (fexofenadine).

Loratadine (Alavert, Claritin)

The fact that this medication does not cross the blood-brain barrier makes it THE over-the-counter antihistamine of choice, even though it is a long-acting antihistamine.

Based on Hale’s Medication & Mother’s Milk, an infant weighing 8.8 lbs would receive less than 0.46 percent of the maternal dose according to Hale’s Medication & Mother’s Milk.

Fexofenadine (Allegra)

The nonsedating nature of this medication makes it a preferred antihistamine for breastfeeding mothers. Fexofenadine does not appear to have any adverse effects on nursing babies.

Levocabastine oral (Xyzal) and Levocabastine eyedrops (Livostin)

Although most commonly prescribed as eye drops, the amount of medication that transfers into human milk is so tiny that it’s not clinically significant. Plus, there have been no reports of adverse effects in breastfed babies.

However, information regarding Levocabastine oral preparations is not available.

Zatador (Ketotifen)

Antihistamines like Zatador (ketotifen) are sold as eye drops, effective for watery and itchy eyes.

NeilMed Sinus Rinse

You can also use saline nasal rinses, like NeilMed Sinus Rinse, to relieve nasal drainage.

By using these rinses, allergens flush from your nasal passages. This reduces the amount of drainage you produce.

Sinus Pressure and Congestion

Other common symptoms associated with allergy season include sinus pressure and congestion.

Afrin (Oxymetazoline)

Afrin (Oxymetazoline) nasal spray is a safe nasal decongestant while breastfeeding.

Due to its poor absorption from nasal passages, Afrin does not affect supply as a decongestant taken orally.

However, Afrin may cause rebound congestion if taken for more than three days in a row.

Flonase and Nasacort

The steroid nasal sprays Flonase and Nasacort (available over the counter or on prescription) can reduce sinus pressure and congestion.

Although they are considered safe for supply and baby, it may take a few days to work completely. However, few people prefer Nasacort for its less taste.

Atrovent and Cromolyn

While Atrovent is a prescription nasal spray, Cromolyn is an OTC medication. They are both also considered safe for supply and your baby. But you will only find them in a few pharmacies.

Headaches

The effects of allergies or changes in the weather can cause headaches during an allergy season. Some of the safest pain-relievers for breastfeeding mothers include the following:

Tylenol (acetaminophen)

This medication may relieve mild to moderate headaches and is considered safe for babies and breast milk supply.

Motrin (ibuprofen)

Since ibuprofen relieves both pain and inflammation, it may be more helpful for severe headaches.

Because Motrin rapidly metabolizes and does not stay in a mother’s milk for long, it is one of the preferred anti-inflammatory medications when breastfeeding.

See also: Safe Cold Medicines While Breastfeeding: What can I take?

Unsafe Allergy Medicine While Breastfeeding

First-generation antihistamines and medications that contain decongestants are among the allergy medications to avoid while breastfeeding.

Pseudoephedrine is one of these medications, along with chlorpheniramine, brompheniramine, and diphenhydramine.

First Generation Antihistamines

The effects of first-generation antihistamines such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) extend beyond relieving allergy symptoms.

Using them at high doses and for prolonged periods may decrease supply.  And so you may want to avoid these antihistamines if possible.

This category of medications (first-generation antihistamines) passes into breastmilk and has been linked to drowsiness, irritability, and colic symptoms in breastfed babies.

Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine)

Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) can decrease milk production and should be avoided whenever possible.

One dose of medicine like pseudoephedrine can affect breast milk production.

In general, the best way to evaluate these medications is to look at how they affect you after taking them. Also, know that your baby will likely experience the same side effects if the medicines pass through breast milk.

Most Common Forms of Allergy Medicine Ingestion

Oral Medications

This involves pills, tablets, fluid, or capsules. Upon ingestion, the medicine releases into your stomach and moves through your bloodstream to have a response. In addition, they are most likely to enter breast milk.

Nasal Sprays

Usually, nasal sprays are not absorbed by breast milk and pose little risk to nursing babies.

Inhalers

Because only a small amount of medication enters the bloodstream, they rarely cause breastfeeding issues.

Eye Drops

The body absorbs a minimal amount of eye drops, so not enough medication would enter the bloodstream to enter human milk.

Which Medication Is Best to Take?

You might feel a bit overwhelmed now that you know about all the allergy medications that are available to you.

While it may be tempting to stay with the safest top-rated drugs (L1), many mothers need to take medications with a higher lactation rating to find relief. In some cases, they may not take an L1 or L2 drug for medical reasons.

Even though there are not many published studies on L3 medications, it’s worth noting that they aren’t necessarily more dangerous.

Most drugs whose safety is better studied in breastfeeding mothers are rated lower.

In a Nutshell

In the end, only your care provider can decide which drug you should take, and now that you have these guidelines, you can better prepare for that discussion.

Treatments for allergies include various types of medications, and there are many ways of taking them.

Each allergy medicine has its mechanism of action depending on the type of medication and how you take it.

Allergy Medicine While Breastfeeding FAQs

Do I have to stop breastfeeding if I have allergies?

No. It is absolutely fine to breastfeed if you have allergies, even with topical symptoms like a rash or hives.

In some cases, it is confusing to tell if you have an allergy or a cold since the symptoms are often similar.

Even if you are symptomatic from a cold or flu, you can still breastfeed, and you don’t need to wean.

Will breastfeeding give my baby allergy symptoms?

It is impossible to transmit allergies through breast milk, so you don’t have to worry about your baby catching allergy symptoms or developing an allergy to something you’re allergic to because of breastfeeding.

Allergic reactions result from an overreactive (aka hyperactive) immune response to something normally considered safe.

Even if your body thinks it can kill you, grass and ragweed aren’t poisonous and shouldn’t produce that reaction.

Do I need to take medication?

While no medication can cure allergies, there are many options to alleviate allergy symptoms.

People often turn to medication for the relief of these symptoms. However, this is not always necessary. Alternatively, homeopathic remedies are available to relieve allergies.

Will taking allergy medicine while breastfeeding dry up my milk?

There is a growing concern among moms about allergies medications drying up milk. There is some validity in the fear, as some antihistamines tend to dry out milk.

Interestingly, some parents use allergy medicine to speed the weaning process.

Thankfully, infrequent, small doses of allergy medications rarely have an adverse effect on your milk supply.

However, Sudafed poses a significant risk to your milk production.

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