If you find yourself reaching for the tissues when the pollen count soars, you’ll want to think twice before treating your seasonal allergies the same way you did prepregnancy. Alexandra Sowa, MD, clinical instructor at Weill Cornell Medical College and mom of two in New York City, shares the scoop on how to safely snuff out the sniffles.
Prefer to navigate nasal troubles the all-natural way? There are ample home remedies that could cure your congestion. Sowa suggests saline sprays and nasal irrigation—which can be used daily as a preventative measure or on an as-needed basis. Simple lifestyle changes can also help manage symptoms, including elevating your head by 30 degrees while sleeping and exercising regularly, which Sowa says causes the vessels in the nose to constrict.
There’s no need to steer clear of the medicine cabinet completely. Traditional antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) have been used during pregnancy for many years—and are backed by a long list of safety studies. “However, as anyone who has ever taken this medication knows, it can make you incredibly drowsy—not a great addition to baseline pregnancy fatigue,” notes Sowa, who points to second-generation antihistamines like cetirizine (Zyrtec) as non-sedating alternatives.
The other offender
Many moms-to-be experience nasal congestion and think they have new-onset seasonal allergies, but that might not be the case. A condition called “pregnancy rhinitis” (swelling in the lining of the nasal passages) affects up to 30 percent of expectant women, says Sowa. It can last the full nine months but will, thankfully, disappear within two weeks postpartum. Until then, she advises sticking to natural remedies because this sort of congestion does not respond well to medications.