Benadryl During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on May 1, 2012


Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is classified as pregnancy Category B medication. This means that there is probably no danger to the baby with this medication.  The use of Benadryl during pregnancy has not been thoroughly studied, however. Some indications may point to a connection between Benadryl or diphenhydramine use during pregnancy and cleft palate, though this has not been proven conclusively. Benadryl is sometimes used as a treatment for morning sickness, but you should always discuss this or any other medication with your doctor before taking it while pregnant.

Side effects associated with Benadryl may make this a dangerous medication to take while breastfeeding. Benadryl (diphenhydramine) does pass through the breast milk to the infant. Benadryl may also affect a woman’s supply of breast milk. If you believe you need to take this medication while breastfeeding, you should discuss it with your doctor first.

Can Benadryl Be Used By Pregnant Women?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies Benadryl as a Pregnancy Category B medication which means that its effects on pregnancy and the unborn child has not been fully studied in pregnant women. However, animal studies suggest that it will unlikely cause harm on the fetus. Pregnancy Category B also includes those medications that are proven to be safe in humans but have caused problems in animal studies.

Animal studies conducted on pregnant rabbits suggest that large doses of Benadryl do not increase the risks of problems. On the other hand, there are inadequate, well-controlled human studies conducted to determine the safety of this medication during pregnancy. Although most studies show that it is fairly safe for pregnant women, there is limited evidence that suggests that Benadryl increases the risk of cleft palate; but this is still inconclusive and requires further studies. In addition, use of antihistamine drugs during the last two weeks of pregnancy has been shown to increase the risk of a certain eye problem that can lead to blindness.

Although Benadryl is relatively safe for use during pregnancy, pregnant women are advised to consult their healthcare provider before taking this medication, as well as any other antihistamines and cough-and-colds drug to prevent any potential risks. If you regularly use Benadryl for management of some medical conditions,  be sure to discuss it with your healthcare provider.

Can Benadryl Be Used By Breastfeeding Women?

The manufacturer of Benadryl recommends that breastfeeding women avoid taking this medication because of the potential adverse effects to the infant. Diphenhydramine is excreted into the breast milk which can lead to possible side effects on the breastfed child. Premature and newborn infants are particularly sensitive to the effects of medications.

Diphenhydramine has also been shown to affect lactation. Theoretically, Benadryl suppresses prolactin, a compound that is essential in milk production. However, for women who have well-established breast milk production, this would not probably be a major issue.

On the other hand, some medical experts and sources consider this drug compatible with breastfeeding. You and your healthcare provider must decide whether to discontinue taking the medication or discontinue breastfeeding, taking into account the importance of the medication to the mother.

If your healthcare provider believes that the benefits of taking this medication outweigh the risks, be sure to monitor for any untoward effects on the breastfed child.