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Can You Take Claritin While Pregnant? There Are So Many Allergy Medicines Out There

If you’re at the pharmacy right now, here’s which antihistamine to leave with.

If there’s one thing to know about pollen, it’s that it takes no prisoners, and it spares no pregnant person. Yes, even when your body is doing the sacred task of growing new life, seasonal allergies (and dander, pet, or dust allergies) can feel even more intense than usual. Maybe you’ve gotten the go-ahead from your OB-GYN to use nasal sprays, like Flonase, to help relieve your allergy symptoms. But if you’re looking for an oral tablet to take, and you find yourself standing in the pharmacy aisle looking at all of the antihistamine options available, here’s what doctors want you to know about taking Claritin during pregnancy.

Taking Claritin during pregnancy

So, is Claritin safe in pregnancy? OB-GYNs give the brand (its generic name is loratadine) two thumbs up, but you should avoid Claritin-D, which has the decongestant pseudoephedrine in it.

“I would say that Claritin is definitely safe at the usual doses that are available over the counter without any concerns,” says Dr. Clayton Alfonso, MD, board-certified OB-GYN at Duke Health. “We always recommend less is better in pregnancy, so the fewer medications you can take, the better. We know Claritin has good safety data; I don't worry that patients are on Claritin, but if they’re using it to treat kind of common allergies, then there are some non-medication options that people can do first, like using saline nasal spray regularly to see if that can allow them to not have to use a medication.”

Pregnancy-safe over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medicines

According to Alfonso, these “are three common and well studied medications in pregnancy that are safe at the regular, over-the-counter doses that are available.”

  • Claritin (but not Claritin-D)
  • Allegra
  • Zyrtec
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Can you take Claritin in the first, second, and third trimester?

Feeling super stuffy but unsure what you can do about it? Fear not. “Claritin is safe throughout all of pregnancy regardless of trimester,” Alfonso says.

Is Claritin-D safe during pregnancy?

Claritin-D has all the same antihistamine, allergy-relieving abilities as regular Claritin, but includes an additional ingredient: pseudoephedrine. It’s not recommended for pregnant people to take medications containing pseudoephedrine (like Tylenol Cold & Flu, and some other nasal decongestants).

Dr. Deepti Sharma, MD, board-certified OB-GYN at UAB Medicine, says pseudoephedrine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it shrinks your blood vessels to reduce congestion, and she steers patients away from these during pregnancy.

“With pseudoephedrine, we should probably avoid it in pregnancy, especially in the first trimester,” says Alfonso. “There have been some rare case reports of first trimester issues with pseudoephedrine and birth defect. So, we would love people to avoid that in the first trimester. If it's absolutely needed in the second and third trimester to help with decongestion, then it can be used. But I would recommend using it sparingly for the shortest amount of time.”

How much Claritin can I take while pregnant?

If you’re wondering whether you can take the standard dose of Claritin while pregnant, the answer is yes, just stick to the recommendation on the label. Alfonso says 10 milligrams is the standard daily dose advised on the box, and it’s safe for pregnant people to take this amount.

Sharma seconds this. “Usually we recommend what is on the box, and the normal dosing is going to be 10 milligrams a day.”

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Any time you take a medication while pregnant, you want to know if there are any documented risks or negative side effects associated with it. With Claritin, you should be in the clear, Alfonso says. “Claritin and all of those what we would call second generation antihistamines, are all safe — no adverse pregnancy outcomes with them have been demonstrated to my knowledge.”

“I don’t know of any documented risks if you take too much, but I would recommend following the regular dosing,” says Sharma. “If people take too much and are concerned about it, we would usually call the Poison Control Center.”

When to take Claritin during pregnancy

Being an antihistamine, Claritin is meant to ease allergy symptoms. If pollen or pets are making you stuffy while you’re pregnant, that’s still an OK reason to grab some Claritin at the pharmacy.

“Usually we recommend it for allergy relief. I think Claritin is great: it’s non-drowsy, which is a big benefit over Benadryl,” says Sharma.

Treating allergies without medication while pregnant

If you’re trying to steer clear of meds altogether while you’re expecting, here’s what Alfonso recommends to his own patients:

  • Using a saline spray or saline rinse for nasal congestion.
  • Try dilator strips on the nose to help relieve congestion overnight.
  • Avoid the allergen as much as possible.

Seasonal allergies just hit a little harder when you’re pregnant, when it feels like your whole body is already swollen and, depending on how far along you are, it’s hard enough to breathe as it is. These OB-GYNs agree that if you need Claritin to help relieve your symptoms, you shouldn’t worry about taking it.


Dr. Clayton Alfonso, MD, board-certified OB-GYN at Duke Health

Dr. Deepti Sharma, MD, board-certified OB-GYN at UAB Medicine