Can I take hay fever medicine if I'm breastfeeding?

There are some hay fever medicines that you can usually take while you're breastfeeding without risk to your baby.

Nasal sprays and eye drops should be tried first, and the antihistamines loratadine and cetirizine are generally considered safe when taken at low doses. However, it's safest if you get advice from your pharmacist, GP or health visitor first.

This advice applies to mothers of full-term, healthy babies. Always get advice from your GP before taking any medicine if you're breastfeeding and your baby:

  • was born early (prematurely)
  • had a low birth weight
  • has a medical condition

Hay fever remedies

When you seek advice from your pharmacist, GP or health visitor they will take into account factors such as:

  • how mild or severe your symptoms are – if your symptoms are mild, you may be able to manage without treatment
  • how effective the medicine is 
  • how much of the medicine passes to your baby through your breast milk

If you take hay fever medicine while you're breastfeeding, you should take the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time, unless your healthcare professional gives you other advice.

  • Try topical treatments first. These are medicines that you don't need to swallow such as nasal sprays and eye drops.
  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays help to unblock your nose and sinuses. They're unlikely to pass into your breast milk and only in low amounts.
  • Sodium cromoglicate eye drops relieve the redness, itchiness and watering of your eyes. It's unlikely that sodium cromoglicate passes into your breast milk.
  • Loratadine or cetirizine are the antihistamine tablets recommended if you're breastfeeding. They can have different brand names, so speak to your pharmacist for advice. These are non-drowsy antihistamines – you should avoid using antihistamines that make you drowsy (sedating) as they can affect your baby if used for more than a short time.

Hay fever treatments during pregnancy

The advice on taking hay fever medicine during pregnancy is different. For more information, see Can I take hay fever medicine during pregnancy? and read more information about preventing hay fever.

You can also read answers to more questions about medicines.

Further information:

Hay fever advice

Hay fever is an allergy to pollen that affects around one in four people. An expert explains how it's diagnosed, the symptoms and treatment.

Media last reviewed: 21/04/2015

Next review due: 21/04/2017

Page last reviewed: 09/07/2015

Next review due: 08/07/2017