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Springtime Allergy Meds for Pregnancy: What’s Safe?

Sneezing, coughing and itchy eye allergy — along with all the other not-so-pleasant signs of pregnancy. If you’re already suffering from pregnancy congestion, you may feel like your symptoms have become unbearable with the addition of spring allergens.

Unfortunately, experiencing worse allergies during pregnancy is quite common. Luckily, there are allergy medications that are safe to use during pregnancy.

This guide will cover which medications are safe and unsafe during pregnancy, how you can prevent spring allergies and other natural remedies to relieve your symptoms.

It’s important to note that before taking any allergy medication, you should consult your doctor. The information provided in this post is a general guideline. Your physician will be able to tell you what is safe and most effective for you and your pregnancy.


What Causes Spring Allergies?

When a woman becomes pregnant, her chances of having allergies increases. Many expecting mothers experience hay fever or other seasonal allergies, called “allergic rhinitis.” About 1 in every 100 pregnant women will suffer from Asthma, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

So, why does being pregnant make you more likely to suffer from allergies? Your mucous membranes become swollen during pregnancy, making you feel stuffier. If you’re already allergic to common allergens, the symptoms will add to your pregnancy congestion.

In spring, these allergies are most commonly caused by pollen and mold. Pollen is produced by trees, weeds and grass. In the spring, trees are the most common allergen, but since pollen travels through the wind, even if you don’t live near trees, you can still be triggered. Mold doesn’t just include mold in your home — but can also be found under a pile of dead leaves or on a patch of grass (snow mold).


Allergy symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • Dark under-eye circles


While these symptoms may just seem annoying, they are important to control. Untreated allergies could lead to asthma. In addition, a severe reaction (anaphylaxis) or low oxygen supply could affect your baby.


How to Prevent Spring Allergies

The first step to preventing or minimizing spring allergies is limiting your exposure. While you can’t control what goes on outside, you can try to control what comes into your home.


To minimize your exposure to pollen:

  • Limit going outside between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. (when there’s the most pollen)
  • Purchase a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter to help purify the air inside your home
  • Wipe your dog before he comes inside to prevent pollen from entering your home
  • Don’t hang dry clothes outside
  • Park your car in the garage
  • Don’t track your shoes into the house
  • Dust and vacuum frequently
  • Keep your windows closed
  • Shower at night to wash off any pollen in your hair
  • Check pollen counts online or on the news to know the best time to go outside


To minimize your exposure to mold:

  • Limit exposure to flower shops, farms, construction shops etc.
  • Avoid uncut grass or piles of damp leaves
  • Wear a dust mask if cutting grass or gardening
  • Purchase a dehumidifier and air conditioner to control the moisture and humidity
  • Keep your backyard dry by removing leaves
  • Reduce dampness in your home (especially bathrooms and basements)



Allergy Meds for Pregnancy

It’s safe to take some allergy medications during pregnancy; however, others you should avoid or at least be more cautious of. Since the first trimester is important for a baby’s development, you should pay close attention to your medications and symptoms during this time.

It should be noted that there haven’t been enough studies to completely label most allergy medications as totally risk-free for pregnant women. However, some are considered generally safe by most physicians.

According to the ACAAI, antihistamines can be used during pregnancy to help nasal and eye symptoms as well as hives and eczema. In fact, if a mother does suffer from allergy symptoms, she should use treatments to ensure it doesn’t affect her maternal eating, sleeping or emotional well-being. It may also predispose you to sinusitis (sinus infection).


Safe antihistamines for pregnancy:

  • Chlorpheniramine (brand name: ChlorTrimeton)
  • Diphenhydramine (brand name: Benadryl)
  • Loratadine (brand name: Claritin)
  • Cetirizine (brand name: Zyrtec)


According to the ACAAI, all of the above medications are commonly used throughout pregnancy and have “reassuring” animal studies to back up their safety. The potential problem with ChlorTrimeton and Benadryl is that they make some women feel drowsy and may even put them to sleep. Many patients report that Claritin and Zyrtec have less sedating or impairing qualities.

Oxymetazoline nasal sprays (brand name: Afrin and Neo-Synephrine Long-Acting) may be the safest decongestant since it isn’t absorbed into the blood stream in large quantities. However, the ACAAI warns that these nasal sprays may cause “rebound congestion” and should only be used for three consecutive days at maximum.

You may want to avoid using the decongestant pseudoephedrine (brand name: Sudafed) during your first trimester unless your symptoms cannot be relieved by other medications. Although most studies don’t show that the drug poses risks, there are reports of increased abdominal wall defects in newborns.

A small 2013 study found that phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine were linked to birth defects involving the digestive tract, heart and ear. Phenylephrine was found to increase a newborn’s risk of endocardial cushion defect by eight times. The drug was also thought to increase the risk of limb reduction defects by 3 times if used in the first trimester. Phenylpropanolamine (brand name: Acutrim) increased ear and stomach defects by eight times, according to the study.

The author of the study, Dr. Allen Mitchell, told Reuters that doctors shouldn’t be recommending decongestants to pregnant women and should only consider it on a case-by-case basis. Be on the lookout for antihistamines that also contain a decongestant. Antihistamine nasal sprays should be avoided.

The ACAAI recommends using a prescribed corticosteroid nasal spray (steroid nasal spray) if your symptoms last for more than a few days. These sprays work to decrease inflammation in the nasal passages. Although there’s not a significant amount of data on steroid nasal sprays and pregnancy, budesonide (brand-name: Rhinocort) has been proven safe and effective in an inhaled form.

If you’re suffering from nasal congestion, you can also safely use nasal strips while sleeping.

If you are already receiving allergy shots, you can safely continue them throughout pregnancy as long as you’re not experiencing any adverse reactions. However, if you’re looking to start allergen immunotherapy, you should wait until after you’ve had your baby because of the increased risk of anaphylaxis during the months after these shots.

After reading this information, you may think it’s safer to avoid allergy medication altogether; however, that’s not necessarily true. As the ACAAI warns, it’s more dangerous to have an inadequate oxygen supply to your baby than the danger posed by most allergy medications.

If you’re suffering from allergies while pregnant, consult your doctor before taking any medication. If your allergies are becoming severe, you may choose to make an appointment with an allergist.


Natural Remedies for Springtime Allergies

If your symptoms are not severe, you may find relief using one of the home remedies below. Keep in mind that most of these remedies have not been studied to evaluate effectiveness.


  • Neti pot: A Neti pot will rinse your nasal cavity with a saline solution (salt and water), helping to clear you of allergens and congestion.


  • Steam: Another way to clear out your nasal passages is to use steam. Fill a bowl with boiling water, place a towel over your head and lean close to the bowl, inhaling the steam.


  • Mint tea: Drinking mint tea may help in two ways: The steam will clear your nose and the mint will act as a decongestant.


  • Butterbur: One study showed that butterbur (a plant extract) tablets eased allergy symptoms as much as some allergy medications.


  • Essential oils: Inhaling essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon and tea tree may help respiratory conditions.


  • Pasteurized apple cider vinegar: Some people believe that apple cider vinegar can decrease mucous production and help to clean out the lymphatic system. You can mix a teaspoon into a glass of water and drink it a few times a day. Pasteurized apple cider (usually in regular grocery stores) is thought to be safer during pregnancy.


  • Spice: Eating spicy foods or using hot sauce will clear your nose and may provide temporary relief.


  • Probiotics: Taking a daily probiotic will help to strengthen your immune system. Another bonus: A recent study showed that women who took probiotics while pregnant had children that were significantly less prone to developing allergies.


Are you pregnant and suffering from spring allergies? If you are, comment below which medication or remedy works best for you! We’d love to hear your tips. If you have any friends or family members suffering from allergies, be sure to share this post with them, too!

P.S. Want a better bonding experience with your baby while he or she is still in the womb? Our fetal dopplers will give you and your partner the amazing ability to listen to your baby’s heartbeat at home.



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About Maria Gorobets

Maria Gorobets is the visionary behind Baby Doppler. Maria founded Baby Doppler and is passionate about helping soon-to-be mothers and providing them with the tools to make pregnancy easier. Maria's goal is to make sure that all customers are happy and she strictly lives by that code. She loves to spend time with the family, travel and do extraordinary things in life!

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