Benadryl and Breastfeeding


You’re nursing, and you have an allergy attack. Can you safely take Benadryl, or will it pass into your breast milk and affect your baby negatively?

Benadryl, or diphenhydramine, is an antihistamine medication used to treat the runny nose, sneezing, and watery or itchy eyes that come along with an allergic reaction. It’s also good for colds. It helps alleviate nausea associated with motion sickness. Because it has a strong sedative effect, it’s also used for anxiety and sleeplessless. It can even be used as an alternative to the local anesthetic lidocaine for people who are allergic to that drug.

When Benadryl is used as an antihistamine, it’s recommended that patients take 25-50mg every four to six hours. The maximum recommended dosage per day is 300mg.

Johnson and Johnson, the company that makes Benadryl, advises breastfeeding women not to take the medication. It’s thought that diphenhydramine can affect milk production by suppressing a hormone called prolactin. However, most health-care providers generally deem Benadryl safe for use during nursing: if your doctor believes your taking Benadryl is necessary for your wellbeing, he or she may allow you to take the medication. You should keep a close eye on your baby to monitor any effect the medicine may be having: your baby may become drowsy. Your doctor might also recommend you take a non-sedative antihistamine medication instead of Benadryl.

You may want to wait to take Benadryl until after the first month or two of nursing, to make sure your milk supply is well established. If you have a premature or sick baby, any medicine you take – including diphenhydramine - may have a stronger effect on him or her than on older babies.

Diphenhydramine may be found in products other than Benadryl: if you want to avoid this chemical, check the ingredient lists of over-the-counter cold remedies, motion-sickness medications, and sleep aids before taking them.


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