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Can You Take Benadryl While Breastfeeding? [A Quick Guide]

Can You Take Benadryl While Breastfeeding [A Quick Guide]

Benadryl is an antihistamine for treating allergies, hay fever, and the common cold that we can usually buy without a prescription.

However, taking antihistamines while breastfeeding can decrease milk supply and have negative effects. AVOID THEM IF POSSIBLE.

There are other ways to treat allergies and colds while breastfeeding. Moms can try home remedies like saline nasal sprays and eye drops. 

Nonetheless, here are key takeaways you’ll surely find handy in this article.

  • Benadryl for breastfeeding mothers should be doctor-approved.
  • Benadryl remains in breast milk for a specific period.
  • The ingredients in Benadryl.
  • Taking Benadryl while breastfeeding poses potential risks.
  • There are safe alternatives to Benadryl for breastfeeding mothers.

NOTE: Benadryl is generally safe but talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding before taking it. 

Can You Take Benadryl While Breastfeeding?

Consult your doctor before taking any medication while breastfeeding.

Even so, small, occasional doses of diphenhydramine are unlikely to harm your baby.

However, you must be cautious as larger doses or prolonged use may affect your baby or decrease your milk supply — especially if combined with pseudoephedrine or taken during the early stages of lactation

Nonsedating antihistamines at bedtime after the last feeding is preferred for minimal impact on the baby.

How Long Does It Take for Benadryl to Leave Breast Milk?

Generally, Benadryl takes about 8 to 24 hours to clear from breast milk.

However, it’s important to note that individual factors and dosage may influence this timeframe. Other factors include your metabolism and the age of your baby.

Therefore, the duration for Benadryl to clear from breast milk varies.

Remember, Benadryl can decrease milk supply. If really needed, consider taking Benadryl at bedtime after your final feeding of the day. 

This will give the diphenhydramine time to wear off before you breastfeed again in the morning.

What Is Benadryl?

Benadryl is the brand name for the antihistamine medication called diphenhydramine.

This over-the-counter medication alleviates symptoms of allergies. It helps parents experiencing hay fever, common colds, itching, sneezing, watery eyes, and runny nose.

It can also aid in preventing motion sickness and promoting relaxation and sleep. 

Diphenhydramine comes in various forms, including tablets, capsules, dissolving strips, powder, and liquid. 

The dosage and frequency of use depend on the specific condition being treated. Either you are prescribed to use it for allergies, cough, cold, motion sickness, or insomnia. 

Diphenhydramine is also found in combination products with other medications. 

So, read labels and avoid taking multiple products with the same active ingredient to prevent overdosing. 

Carefully follow dosage instructions and consult a doctor or pharmacist for safe usage. 

What Are the Ingredients of Benadryl?

Benadryl’s active ingredient is diphenhydramine (a histamine blocker). Benadryl blocks the production of histamine during allergic reactions by blocking acetylcholine.

Benadryl has been transparent with its ingredients and what they’re for. This includes the following:

  • Carnauba Wax – Gives the tablets their shine
  • Croscarmellose Sodium NF – Helps break down the tablet in your stomach
  • D&C Red No. 27 Aluminum Lake – Provides nice color
  • Dibasic Calcium Phosphate – Helps hold the tablet together
  • Hypromellose – Helps mask the bitter taste 
  • Magnesium stearate – Coats ingredients and helps prevent them from sticking to each other and other things.
  • Microcrystalline Cellulose NF (Avicel PH-102) – Helps hold the tablet together.
  • Polyethylene Glycol – Helps maintain the flexibility and structure of the tablet coating.
  • Polysorbate 80 – Helps incorporate the coating ingredients to make them uniform.
  • Titanium dioxide – Creates a bright white coating.

Remember to double-check the specific formulation and product label for any inactive ingredients. They can vary depending on the specific formulation of Benadryl.

What Are the Risks of Taking Benadryl While Breastfeeding?

What Are the Risks of Taking Benadryl While Breastfeeding?

Larger doses or prolonged use of Benadryl may lead to effects on the infant or a decrease in milk supply. 

This may happen when combined with sympathomimetic medications like pseudoephedrine or when breastfeeding is not well established. 

Serious side effects can be vision problems, difficulty urinating, or painful urination.

Some tips for minimizing the risks of taking Benadryl while breastfeeding include:

  • Take the lowest dose possible.
  • Taking Benadryl at night prevents daytime drowsiness for your baby.
  • Breastfeed your baby right before you take Benadryl.
  • Monitor your baby for any side effects.

You can take nonsedating antihistamines to avoid drowsiness or other side effects in babies. 

Alternatives to Benadryl

Alternatives to Benadryl

Claritin (loratadine) is the recommended antihistamine for breastfeeding. 

You may want to explore more alternative medications. Your options include Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen, saline nasal sprays, eye drops, and home remedies.  

Loratadine-Based Medicine

Loratadine is a non-sedating antihistamine. It is a second-generation antihistamine that does not fill histamine H-1 receptors in the brain. 

Some examples of loratadine-based medicines include Claritin, Alavert, and Wal-itin.

Loratadine lasts up to 24 hours, requiring only one daily dose. In contrast, Benadryl lasts 4-6 hours, necessitating more frequent intake.

Drowsiness is a common side effect, but it is usually not serious and disappears alone and faster than Benadryl.

Loratadine-based medicines are generally safe with minimal side effects.

Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen

Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer.

Ibuprofen is a pain reliever, fever reducer, and anti-inflammatory medication. It is also generally considered to be safe for mothers who express

A small amount of these OTC alternatives can pass into breast milk, but it is not enough to affect the baby.

Both are absorbed into the bloodstream slowly, but it also stays in the body for longer. 

This means that both OTC medicines can last longer in the body.

Saline Nasal Sprays

Saline nasal sprays do not contain medication, therefore, do not have any side effects.

They are also safe to take while breastfeeding because they do not pass into breast milk in significant amounts.

Moms taking this will not pose any risk for the baby.

Saline nasal sprays work by moisturizing the nasal passages and clearing away mucus. This alternative relieves allergy symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, and congestion.

They can be used as frequently as needed.

Eye Drops

Eye drops are good alternatives to Benadryl because they are safe and effective for treating allergy symptoms in the eyes. 

Eye drops for cold, and allergy relief are safe for nursing moms.

They work by reducing inflammation in the eyes — such as those characterized by red, itchy, and watery eyes.

They are safe to use while breastfeeding because the medication in the eyedrops is applied directly to the eyes. It does not need oral medication. 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that boosts the immune system and helps reduce allergy symptoms.

They act as a natural antihistamine which helps alleviate symptoms like sneezing, itching, and runny nose. 

It reduces inflammation, which can help relieve nasal congestion and swelling.

It is safe for breastfeeding mothers to consume vitamin C through food sources or supplements, as it is an essential nutrient. 

Home Remedies

Home remedies are made with natural ingredients, so they are a good option for parents looking for a more natural approach to allergy relief.

These home remedies do not cause side effects like the other alternatives mentioned.

You can try the following: 

  • Gargling with salt water – Gargling with salt water can help to relieve a sore throat and cough. Mix one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water.
  • Cool compress – A cool compress can help to reduce inflammation and itching in the eyes and skin. Soak a washcloth in cold water and apply it to the affected area.
  • Honey – Eating local honey can help to desensitize your body to allergens in your environment. It is a good food that can help reduce allergy symptoms over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before I leave with my parting words, allow me to answer these FAQs I got from fellow parents. 

I’m sure you will appreciate this extra insight much as I appreciate learning them from parenting seminars, my doctor, and veteran moms. 

Does Benadryl Affect Milk Supply?

Medicines like Benadryl decrease milk supply if used at high doses and for long periods.

Benadryl’s drying effect on the body may also contribute to its potential impact on milk supply

The medication can reduce the production of saliva and other bodily fluids, which could affect breast milk production.

Can I Still Breastfeed if I Have an Allergic Reaction?


You can still breastfeed if you have an allergic reaction. 

While allergens generally do not pass into breast milk, you must consult your doctor for any OTC medications you’re taking. 

You should temporarily stop nursing and explore other breastfeeding options when you have a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. 

But you can continue breastfeeding once you have received appropriate medical care.

How Do I Treat an Allergic Reaction While Breastfeeding?

To treat an allergic reaction while breastfeeding, you should consult your doctor. 

They can recommend safe and appropriate treatments that will not harm your baby. 

You should also try non-medical alternatives such as avoiding allergens or maintaining good hydration.

Your doctor can prescribe safe medications for your baby during breastfeeding if needed.

Avoiding unsafe medication is crucial to prevent the need for pumping and discarding breast milk. 

How Long Does Benadryl Stay in the System?

A dose of Benadryl will be completely out of your system in 2 days.

Benadryl has a half-life of 6–12 hours. The Benadryl you take for that amount is eliminated from the body within that time.

Its long-term effect is why it is not recommended for breastfeeding mommies. 

Nevertheless, the duration of Benadryl in the system can vary on factors like weight and metabolism. 


Consult a doctor before taking medications while breastfeeding to ensure a smooth and safe parenting journey.

Although Benadryl can be taken without a doctor’s approval, situations change once you have a breastfed baby. 

It’s best to consider the potential risks and always exercise caution. 

Josie Mariano
Josie Mariano

Hello, my name is Josie Mariano, and I’m proud to say I’m a soon-to-be mom.
Although my partner and I are still waiting for our firstborn to arrive, we’re already doing whatever it takes to prepare for our baby’s needs.
I’ve been joining a lot of parenting forums and asking my doctors for advice on how to prepare for my baby. They’ve all been very informative and I was able to spot the areas I still need to work on.
At the same time, I also rely on my mom for tips on what to do during my pregnancy journey.
With everything that I’ve learned so far, I’d like to share these experiences to fellow parents and soon-to-be parents!