Can I Take Claritin While Breastfeeding?

Mom breastfeeding baby

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Allergies can turn the loveliest day outdoors into a frustrating nightmare. Your body’s ill-informed war on grass and pollen can ruin what would otherwise have been a perfect summer picnic with your family. And dealing with sneezing, a runny nose, and watery eyes is just that much more difficult if you also happen to be a new parent caring for an infant. 

In the past, you may have reached for Claritin (loratadine) to help soothe your puffy eyes, itchy throat, or find relief from other allergy symptoms. If Claritin has been your go-to to get through the runny nose season, you may wonder if it’s safe for you to take now that you are breastfeeding your little one.

Fortunately, you can safely take Claritin while breastfeeding. Claritin is an antihistamine, which passes through breast milk in such a low quantity that it won’t hurt your baby. “Controlled studies [on Claritin] in breastfeeding people have not shown risk to the infants studied,” notes Melanie Silverman, IBCLC, MS, RD, the chief clinical officer at health-tech company Pacify. 

While regular Claritin is fine, you should be cautious taking Claritin-D, an allergy medicine that also treats cold and flu symptoms. Claritin-D contains a decongestant. Decongestants may reduce milk supply so they may not be the best option to take while breastfeeding.

What Is Claritin?

Claritin treats common allergy symptoms, like sneezing, runny nose, and itchy, red, or watery eyes. Allergies often occur seasonally, triggered by pollen or other types of plants, but they can also be caused by indoor triggers like dust or pet dander.

Substances in your body called histamines react to certain environmental factors, such as pollen or dust, resulting in an allergic reaction. Histamines are meant to keep you safe and healthy but they sometimes overreact or react to non-threatening things in the environment. 

Theoretically, pollen and dust could irritate your nasal passages and lungs, so your body may want to increase fluid output from your nose to prevent this. But realistically, the reaction is often more of a bother than the supposedly unwanted substances would have been in the first place. 

Claritin is an antihistamine, which blocks histamines so that these reactions do not happen. Taking this medication effectively shuts down your body’s over active defense systems so you can enjoy a spring day in peace.

Claritin treats allergy symptoms only. “Loratadine [Claritin] is an allergy medication that helps with seasonal allergies and hay fever symptoms, but is generally not effective to relieve colds, flu, or other viruses,” notes Peter Rizk MD, MA, FRCOG, FRCS, HCLD, FACOG, FACSS, a professor and the head of Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility at the University of South Alabama and consultant with Fairhaven Health.

Is It Safe to Take Claritin While Breastfeeding?

You can take regular Claritin while breastfeeding. Research shows that an insignificant amount of Claritin passes through breast milk, and that would not cause any problems for your infant.

While regular Claritin is completely fine, taking Claritin-D while breastfeeding may reduce milk supply. Claritin-D contains both loratadine, an antihistamine, and pseudoephedrine sulfate, a nasal decongestant.

“Where breastfeeding moms get into trouble is taking a medication that contains a decongestant like Claritin-D, that helps reduce nasal and lung secretions, or phlegm,” explains Dr. Rizk. “Because milk ducts also secrete liquid—breast milk—these ingredients will probably also reduce the amount of breastmilk a breastfeeding mom produces—something you don't want!” 

Breastfeeding parents who have not fully established their milk supply should be wary of this risk associated with Claritin-D. It's best to exercise caution when taking this medication and check with a healthcare provider if you have concerns.

Every breastfeeding journey is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about taking Claritin while breastfeeding.

Safety Precautions 

If you take Claritin while breastfeeding, there are a few safety precautions to be aware of. 

Check With A Healthcare Provider

Always check with a healthcare provider to be sure if Claritin or any medication is OK for you and your baby’s specific health situation. “Deciding whether Claritin is safe while breastfeeding depends on a person's past medical history,” notes Silverman. “Before starting any medication while breastfeeding, please discuss with your doctor.”

No Added Ingredients

Make sure to take only regular Claritin, containing loratadine with no added ingredients. Antihistamines, which are meant to fight allergies, are safe for a nursing baby, but other ingredients may be best avoided. Claritin-D contains the antihistamine loratadine as well as a decongestant. “Decongestants can dry up your breast milk so it is best to avoid these,” says Silverman.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms as well as allergies, it is best to treat your congestion with natural remedies like hot water and honey while also taking Claritin.

Possible Side Effects

Claritin is considered safe to take while breastfeeding, but a small number of parents reported mild irritability and drowsiness in their babies. The percentages of mothers reporting these side effects were small—only 1.6% noticed drowsiness and 10% noticed irritability. Since babies tend to be both sleepy and crabby often, it is not clear whether these were side effects of the Claritin or just coincidental. 

If you notice any changes in your baby’s behavior when you take Claritin, let your baby’s healthcare provider know. None of the mothers reporting these symptoms needed to bring their babies in for medical care, however. If you are experiencing severe allergy symptoms, there is probably no need to stop taking Claritin. 

A Word From Verywell

Claritin is safe to take for allergy relief while breastfeeding. This medication does pass through breast milk, but only in insignificant amounts that have been shown to be safe for a nursing baby.

Although Claritin is fine, Claritin-D or any type of medication that has a decongestant in the ingredients should be limited while breastfeeding. Decongestants can dry up your milk.

If you have any questions or concerns about taking Claritin while breastfeeding your baby, reach out to a healthcare provider. 

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4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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