Suffering from hay fever when pregnant during the spring and summer months can be unbearable, especially at times when the pollen count is high.
Unfortunately, during pregnancy there are certain medications that women have to steer clear of – and some symptoms can be heightened due to changes in your hormones.
Hay fever is usually bad between late March and September, especially when it’s warm, humid and windy because this is when the pollen count is at its highest.
Hay fever when pregnant: What are the symptoms of hay fever?
Hay fever is very common in the UK and according to Allergy UK, almost 18 million people have hay fever to some degree. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, which is a fine powder released from plants.
Typical symptoms of hay fever include sneezing and coughing, a runny or blocked nose and itchy or watery eyes.
However, you may also suffer with an itchy throat, mouth, nose or ears. Some people may also experience loss of smell, pain around your temples and forehead, and even a headache or earache.
Hay fever symptoms can be worse when you’re pregnant because hormone changes can increase the chances of you feeling bunged up and full of cold.
Hay fever when pregnant:Can I take antihistamines while pregnant?
As always, it is best to take advice from your GP or pharmacist before taking any medication when you are pregnant.
Usually, expectant mums will be advised to use a nasal spray or eye drops before taking tablets.
Unfortunately not all types of antihistamines are suitable during pregnancy, and pharmacists are unlikely to sell antihistamines over the counter for use during pregnancy, due to manufacturer’s restrictions.
Your GP should be able to recommend or prescribe a suitable option, however. The NHS website states chlorphenamine is thought to be one of the safer antihistamines during pregnancy, but can cause drowsiness, so loratadine and cetirizine are preferred.
Hay fever when pregnant: Can I use nasal sprays while pregnant?
Steroid nasal sprays can be used during pregnancy, but Dr David Lloyd, a Harrow GP suggests they should only used during the second and third trimester.
He advises: ‘I would prescribe either Beconase nasal spray or Opticrom eye drops, depending on the individual’s symptoms. This is because the medicines in eye drops and nasal sprays enter the blood stream in very small amounts, and therefore the dose of medicine that reaches the baby in the womb is very small.’
He adds: ‘However, pregnant women should try and avoid all forms of hay fever medication in their first trimester.’
You can also use saline nasal sprays, such as Sterimar, to wash out the pollen or drug-free, non-drowsy allergen barrier balm HayMax which helps keep pollen away from the nose. Both can be bought over the counter and will not harm your baby.
Hay fever when pregnant: Is it safe to use decongestants during pregnancy?
Decongestant medicines often contain pseudoephedrine, which helps to relieve a blocked nose by causing the blood vessels to narrow, thereby reducing swelling of the nasal membranes and mucus production.
However, decongestants are not recommended for use at any stage of pregnancy as they could also reduce blood flow in the placenta and to your baby.
Hay fever when pregnant: How can I reduce my hay fever symptoms?
On a hot and sunny day, you may be tempted to open every window in your house, but keep them shut can be key to avoiding hay fever. Pollen is highest in the air during the middle of the day, so during this time it is best to keep doors and windows shut to help stop the nasty stuff from getting inside.
Vaseline is not only good for moisturising your lips, you can also use it to keep pollen away. Use petroleum jelly as a barrier by placing it on the inside of your nostrils, as this can help stop pollen from sticking to the lining of your nose.
If you’re out and about during when the pollen count is high, then it’s really important that you change your clothes once you get home. Pollen often sticks to everything, including your clothing so put a fresh outfit on to avoid bringing it indoors with you.
It’s normal for most people to have a shower in the morning, but showering in the evening is key for avoiding hay fever as pollen can also cling to your hair too. A shower before bed can help stop the allergens getting into your bed sheets.
Hay fever symptoms can also be alleviated by wearing sunglasses outdoors to prevent pollen from getting in your eyes and avoiding the itchiness that comes with it. Make wraparound sunglasses your go-to summer style if you can.
As well as doing all of the above, there’s also some great natural hay fever remedies that you can try. These include eating local honey, getting plenty of vitamin C and drinking chamomile tea.