Breastfeeding is an extraordinary period in a mother’s life but can also be a time fraught with concerns about what’s safe for both mom and baby. One question that often crops up is whether it’s okay to take Benadryl while breastfeeding. Let’s delve into the specifics.

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl is the brand name for the antihistamine diphenhydramine. It is primarily used to treat allergies, insomnia, and sometimes symptoms of the common cold.

How Benadryl Works

Benadryl functions by blocking histamine, a substance your body releases during an allergic reaction. While effective for allergies, it also crosses the blood-brain barrier, leading to drowsiness.

Transfer to Breast Milk

Low to Moderate Transfer Rate

Studies indicate that Benadryl does pass into breast milk but at a relatively low to moderate rate.

Timing Matters

The concentration in breast milk peaks 1-3 hours after ingestion, so timing the medication around nursing can be essential.

Concerns and Side Effects

Drowsiness in Infants

Diphenhydramine may cause drowsiness in babies, much like it does in adults.

Reduced Milk Supply

Benadryl and other antihistamines can potentially reduce milk supply in breastfeeding mothers.

Anticholinergic Effects

These can include dry mouth and eyes, constipation, urinary retention, and confusion.

What Do Healthcare Providers Say?

Consult a Professional

Experts generally recommend consulting a healthcare provider for personalized advice tailored to individual circumstances.

Short-Term Use

Most healthcare providers suggest that occasional, short-term use of Benadryl is usually acceptable.

Alternative Treatments

Non-Medicated Approaches

Saline nasal sprays and lifestyle changes, such as avoiding known allergens, can often alleviate symptoms.

Non-Sedating Antihistamines

Newer antihistamines like Claritin and Zyrtec are often recommended as they have less sedative effects.

Guidelines for Safe Use

  1. Consult a Healthcare Provider: Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice.
  2. Time It Right: If you must take Benadryl, try to time it for when the baby won’t be nursing for several hours.
  3. Monitor the Baby: Watch for any signs of drowsiness or other side effects in your infant.


Is Benadryl safe for all breastfeeding moms?

No medication is universally safe for all individuals. Always consult a healthcare provider for tailored advice.

Can I use Benadryl to help with sleep while breastfeeding?

Although Benadryl is sometimes used for its sedative effects, it is not recommended as a sleep aid for breastfeeding moms due to its potential to cause drowsiness in infants.

What about using Benadryl cream or gel while breastfeeding?

Topical forms of Benadryl are less likely to pass into breast milk but consult a healthcare provider for specific guidance.


While Benadryl can be effective for treating allergies and insomnia, its use is not universally recommended for breastfeeding mothers. The drug does pass into breast milk and can have various side effects for both mother and baby. Always consult a healthcare provider for the most accurate and personalized advice regarding medication use while breastfeeding.