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Is It Safe to Take Sudafed While Pregnant?

If you are currently pregnant and have a congested nose or you are just looking out for someone who caught a cold while pregnant, you are in the right place.

Most of us use popular over-the-counter decongestants like Sudafed immediately when we suffer from a stuffy nose. But, do you know if you can take Sudafed while pregnant? Check this out.

It is best to avoid Sudafed while pregnant first trimester. Sudafed while pregnant second trimester is allowed but only under a doctor’s prescription or supervision. Same rules as the 2nd trimester apply to taking Sudafed while pregnant third trimester.

Table of Content

What is Sudafed?

Sudafed is a medication currently used in the market for relief from stuffy nose and sinus congestion and other pressure symptoms. Sudafed contains an active drug component called Pseudoephedrine, which has been the go to medicine for colds and congestion.

Pseudoephedrine works by constricting the blood vessels inside the nostrils and allows the sinuses to drain with better ventilation. While most Sudafed products contain only Pseudoephedrine some products under Sudafed PE label contain an active drug component Phenylephrine instead.


The same medicine in Sudafed is also available under a variety of brand labels in the pharmacy. Some common alternatives to Sudafed are Biofed, Cenafed, Simply stuffy, Contac 12-Hour, etc.

Can You Take Sudafed While Pregnant?

While pregnancy is a tough phase, a congested nose can only add to the misery of a woman. What decongestants are safe to take while pregnant is a very common worry amongst pregnant ladies. To clear out some doubts on whether taking Sudafed while pregnant is ok or not, let us know more about the drug safety and classification.

Sudafed Belongs to Which Category of Drugs?

Sudafed belongs to category C in the list of medications you can take while pregnant. Regardless of whether the composition is pseudoephedrine or Phenylephrine, both belong Category C in all three trimesters of pregnancy, which means human studies are lacking and risk cannot be ruled out.

If benefits outweigh risks, pseudoephedrine is preferred over Phenylephrine during pregnancy by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).


However, it is also noted that fetal malformations were observed in the new born baby due to usage of decongestants in the 1st trimester. Hence, do not use Sudafed in the first 3 months of pregnancy.

How Often Can I Take Sudafed While Pregnant?

Popularly women ask their doctors, “I took Sudafed while pregnant, is my baby going to be fine? To be honest, there isn’t relevant information in the question to answer. To know if it is ok for a pregnant woman to take Sudafed, we need to know the age of her pregnancy or gestation and also the dosage that she has taken if she has already.

The current medical studies on Sudafed give valuable information on its usage in pregnancy. It is seen that it is best to avoid Sudafed while pregnant first trimester. Sudafed while pregnant second trimester is allowed but only under a doctor’s prescription or supervision. Same rules as the 2nd trimester apply to taking Sudafed while pregnant third trimester.

Sudafed 12 Hours vs. 24 Hours

Sudafed comes in 12 hour and 24 hour forms of tablet preparations. Sudafed 12 hour contains 120 mg of Pseudoephedrine HCl and provides relief for 12 hours. Sudafed 24 hour contains 240 mg of Pseudoephedrine HCl and provides relief for 24 hours.

While Sudafed 12 hour and Sudafed 24 hour are used regularly by the common population, pregnant females should be extra cautious. Sudafed 12 hour while pregnant should be taken not more than two times a day while Sudafed 24 hour should not be taken more than one time a day.


It is best to avoid Sudafed pe sinus congestion while pregnant as its effects on pregnancy outcome are still unknown but are predicted to be not great for the fetus.

Common Side Effects of Sudafed

Since the active drug component in Sudafed – pseudoephedrine starts to work in and around 15 to 30 minutes after administration, side effects may also take some time to show up.

The usual adverse or side effects of Sudafed include:

  • Feeling dizzy or light headed
  • Having a dry mouth even with proper hydration
  • Changes in the rate of heartbeat (increase or decrease)
  • Elevated blood pressure (BP)
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Nervousness
  • Tremors

Who Should Avoid Sudafed?

While it is now clear that it is best avoided in the 1st trimester of pregnancy, Sudafed needs to be avoided in certain other cases like:

  • If you are hypertensive – meaning you have a high blood pressure
  • If you have cardiac problems (heart related diseases)
  • If you have glaucoma (elevated intraocular pressure)
  • If you have gestational hypertension – you have elevated blood pressure only during pregnancy
  • If you have history of conditions like Preeclampsia or Eclampsia – you have kidney issues and/or seizures because of high blood pressure while pregnant
  • If you are breastfeeding your baby
  • If you are allergic to the medicine


1.  How much Sudafed can you take while pregnant?

How much and how long can you take Sudafed while pregnant depends on your health and medical history. It is best to first consult your OB-GYN or family physician before using Sudafed unsupervised. Commonly, it is advisable to not exceed in dosage of medicine. Sudafed 12 hour should not be taken more than twice a day while Sudafed 24 hour should not be taken more than once a day.

2.  What pregnancy category is Sudafed?

Sudafed is available in 2 forms. One type of Sudafed has an active drug Pseudoephedrine and the other has Phenylephrine. Both forms of Sudafed fall under the Category C of drugs classification in pregnancy meaning, they are not completely banned but are only used with certain precautions when proven necessary.

3.  Can you take any decongestants while pregnant?

The most common decongestants being pseudoephedrine and Phenylephrine, it is not advisable to take over-the-counter decongestants without the advice of your obstetrician or physician. Most clinicians warn against the use of decongestants in the first trimester of pregnancy as sometimes they can cause fetal malformations. In the other trimesters, it is ok to use with caution. You are also not advised to take decongestants if you are hypertensive or have a history of gestational hypertension or Eclampsia in pregnancy.

4.  Can Sudafed hurt my baby?

Since Sudafed is Category C of drugs used in pregnancy, there are chances it might cause harm to the baby in the uterus although not always. There are instances where Sudafed used in the 1st trimester has been linked to fetal malformations involving the intestine, ears, etc. Hence, it is advisable to completely avoid Sudafed in the 1st trimester to prevent harm to the developing baby.


Our piece of advice for you if you are planning to take Sudafed while pregnant would be to never rush to use Sudafed right away without proper medical advice and assessment. A good medical history is required before you use Sudafed during pregnancy as it falls under Category C of drugs in pregnancy. If you care for your baby as much as yourself, go see your OB-GYN before taking Sudafed and avoid it in the 1st trimester to prevent harm to your baby. Never take more than what is advised by your health care practitioner.

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