Home With a New Baby, and a Whopping Case of Hives.

Here I am at home on materinity leave with new Babygirl and 18 month old Babyboy-—for almost a full month now! This is so hard to believe. Only this week have I finally figured out Babygirl’s language. I finally know that after feeding, she needs to be held upright and her back or bottom tapped gently for about an hour or she will not sleep. I know the little kitten fussy noises that means that she is hungry again- even if it’s too early by the clock. I know which wet farty noises mean gas and which mean, better change that diaper, or change the whole outfit!!


These past weeks figuring her out have been complicated by trying to figure myself out. I have been battling the oddest afflication now for about 10 days. I have had a terrible case of hives.


Now, I am not an allergic person, and have no allergies at all, and have never had even one hive in my entire life. I have had allergic reactions to nasty insect bites while traveling in South America, but I’ll allow that is probably pretty normal.


Now,  this situation is entirely weird and very annoying. 10 days ago I noticed that my ankles and wrists itched. I looked and had what appeared to be crops of fresh mosquito bites. “Huh,” I shrugged and ignored them.


The next morning, I awoke to the sensation of my face covered in prickly heat. My eyes, nose and ears itched like mad. I rubbed and rubbed and went about my routine. Late morning when mom came over to help out with the babies, she took one look at me and went, “What is WRONG with your face?” Apparently I was red as a tomato and swollen puffy as well.


I assured her and myself that I could breathe, that my lips and tongue were not involved, took some Benadryl, and tried to ignore the spreading inferno. But by the end of the day, I had red, swollen itchy rash over my breasts also.


I continued to take Benadryl and ignore. But things got worse. By day 3 or 4 I was emailing everyone I knew who might know what was going on. A google search turned up about a gazillion hits on “Postpartum Hives”, though a call to my Ob and Internist turned up that neither of them had ever heard of such as thing. A physician friend had had something similar late in pregnancy- PUPPP (Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) which had responded to steroids.


At this point, the rash on my face, ears and breasts was like one big confluent wheal. I was going mad with itching. All this time I was itchy, puffy and miserable, I was also up every 3 hours or so breastfeeding. Or supplementing with bottle, and the Benadryl cut down on my milk supply considerably. So I called my doc and asked for steroids.


She prescribed a nice hefty taper starting at 60 mg Prednisone daily. I started this, and within hours had a little relief, at least in the itching and swelling. But, after 12 hours, not only was th original rash back with a vengeance, but it spread- classic hives on my legs, arms, and chest. Raised wheals that then coalesced into big raised puffy itchy plaques. I looked like an alien. No blistering, just wheals and then swelling. And itchy, itchy, itchy.


I got some Hydroxyzine, and upped my own Prednisone to 80 mg, and changed the dosing to q12 hours. I know, I know, doctors shouldn’t mess with their own meds like that, but what was I to do?


And, things started to quiet down. Now, I am markedly better. Itchy, and the rash is still there, though faint. I can sleep. I no longer look like an alien.


But I am so beat. I had a bit of an energy surge at first with the Prednisone, but I think the Hydroxyzine and the general sleep deprivation cancelled that out. I can even take the steroids at night and then pass out. For a few hours.


So, I am getting a bit better, though I feel this has caused me a bit of a setback. I had wanted to be up and about more, to be starting on eating healthy and maybe even exercising a bit… but I feel like I am still in survival mode. I can’t barely motivate out of pajamas and off the couch. Great to catch up on Food Network, but really! I see people jogging down the street, all free and light and easy in the fresh chill air, and I envy them. Kind of.


On the other hand, it is kind of nice to have really no other responsibility than holding one baby, and playing with the other. We’re all catching up on Sesame street.


So if anyone has heard of something like this, and can share their experience, they are most welcome!











51 thoughts on “Home With a New Baby, and a Whopping Case of Hives.”

  • Many people feel it’s due to hormones related to nursing.

    I’m 26 months postpartum (breastfed for 20 months) and the hives, while waaaaaaay better than they used to be, still spring up on my neck and face occasionally.

    What really shocked me is the disconnect between how common this seems to be (as evidenced by your Google search) vs. how unaware most people, even in medical fields, are of the problem.

    I’m glad you were able you make the connection and get help before losing too much sleep over it.

    • Thanks so much for your input– It feels better just to hear from others who have had similar symptoms! I agree, I think this is a postpartum form of PUPPP… They are better after Prednisone, but still pop up in crops…

  • I suffer from hives while breastfeeding. I started on the pill and they went away. It is hormone related

  • My hives that started after my daughter was born over 7 years ago was because I had low testosterone and high progesterone. I just found out a few months ago so I suffered for over 7 years. The testosterone is working and I am so thankful for that! If you still suffer get tested!

  • I am experiencing the same hives just after my delivery. I thought it might be because of heat. But, now when the weather is pleasant, not so hot, i still have the hives popping up. I have consulted to my dermatologist 3 times and she prescribed me different meds each time i consulted. The last consultation, she prescribed me w/ methilprednisolone (if not mispelled) and cream. If they dont work, next plan would be skin biopsy to further diagnose.
    I just wonder how you dealt with the hives? Do they just dissapeared or you treat them with some medication till they gone? P.s. i also breastfeed my baby.

    Thank you

    • Yes, they cleared after a Prednisone taper (very similar to methylprednisolone). I was on the taper for 10 days. Hopefully this clears for you.

  • wow, dido, didn’t realize how common this was. When it happened to me, absolutely no one around me, including doctors, had seen this before and no one could figure out the cause. I had hives head to toe after my second son, starting 6 months postpartum. Every single day, regular temporary breakout throughout the day, especially at night.
    I’m not a fan on modern allopathic medicine which is all about treating symptoms instead of the root cause, and I wanted to keep track on the symptoms so I could keep track of the condition, so I avoided all antihistamine drugs. I took benadryl shot once when my whole face was swollen, just to make sure I wouldn’t suffocate, but after I took the shot, I was still swollen, even more actually, and extremely drowsy for 2 days.
    Anyway, long story short, I officially weaned my 2nd boy at 18 months when I was pregnant with number 3, and my hives literally went away completely immediately after. So it lasted 12 months.
    People joke about it and tell me I was allergic to breastfeeding…hahaha.
    Number 3 is 3 months old now, nothing so far, but crossing my fingers that it won’t happen again. Definitely a hormonal thing, but obviously and strangely not studied much at all by the medical community, given the commonality of this condition.

  • I would seriously get your progesterone and testosterone checked out. Yes, women have testosterone. I have been on testosterone cream for almost 2 years now and it is has made a huge difference for me. If you get hives, especially right before your period or ovulation you most likely have too much progesterone. I was diagnosed by my OBGYN through a simple blood test. I am not on the pill, but if you are on the pill it should regulate that.

    The simple testosterone cream will make a world of difference. Having too much progesterone also makes you super tired, sore nipples and more, just Google it. So, not only does taking the testosterone keep you in balance it helps you feel better too. The dose is small but since women need it to it is very helpful. I am still 100% female, just a happier one.

  • One more thing. There was only one doctor in a practice of several that had any idea what was causing my hives. This is inexcusable. I now tell every doctor I go to about my condition so it can become more well known. I don’t want other women to suffer like I did for so many years.

    • Any correlation with taking herbal supplements to increase supply?
      I have taken fenugreek, fennel, and some other supplements recommended by lactation consultants and pediatrician and had a case of hives last week that sent me to the ER. I ended up not taking supplements any longer and with the antihistamine medications my supply went way down.

      • Hi! Did your hives go away after you stopped taking the supplements? I am having the same hives 6weeks postpartum. It started 2 weeks ago and I am still having flare ups every night. The only thing I can think of that’s different is the pills my lactation consultant recommended.

      • Hi! Did your hives go away after you stopped taking the supplements? I am having the same hives 6weeks postpartum. It started 2 weeks ago and I am still having flare ups every night. The only thing I can think of that’s different is the pills my lactation consultant recommended.

  • I also was covered in hives, which prompted me to go to the ER. Was given IV steroids and a medrol dose pack along with antihistamines. I though, was taking herbal supplements to “increase milk supply”. I wonder if any of the other moms were also taking herbal supplements like fenugreek, fennel seeds, goats rue, etc. and if so, if it would be a dose related reaction.
    Thank you for your input.

    • Hi Paula, no herbals, only the prenatal vitamin I had taken all along. Your reaction sounded much worse than mine! I have since met several women who had hives while pregnant and/or breastfeeding… The thought is that it’s a hormone thing

  • I am 11 weeks post-partum, happy as a bee, not stressed out, and pumping exclusively (baby has ‘inefficient eating’ issues but that’s another problem altogether!) and I suddenly broke out in MAJOR head-to-toe hives 8 days ago. They last for about 8 hours and I get a few hours break before another attack comes on. I don’t want to lose my milk supply and so I’m just bearing with it, and it’s miserable. I had never heard of this problem before and neither have my midwives, doula, nor pediatrician. I hope that they end tomorrow….

  • I am 5 week postpartum, exclusively breastfeeding. I broke out in hives about 5 days after I gave birth, A week later my PCP prescribed me prednisone which worked at first but then they came back with a vengeance. Another round did nothing, then went to allergist who told me to simply take more zyrtec and if after a week nothing happens he will prescribe me an additional antihistamine. I am also having blood work done for allergies and thyroid issues. My 6 week postpartum visit is Friday and I will talk to my midwife about it. I would like to get on hormonal BC at this visit anyway so I will see if there is a particular pill that will help with hives. Has anyone seen a difference after going on birth control?

  • So sorry to hear you going through all this. Definitely sounds like a hormonal imbalance postpartum. Your chosen course of care made sense. Hopefully, your can return to some healthy eating to help your overall system recover more quickly. Enjoy those little ones. They grow up before you know it!

  • I’ve just found this upon my searching for “heat rash after giving birth” and I can’t believe I have hives. My son is now 13 weeks and I have been suffering this whole time thinking it was heat rash. I live in AZ so I figured I’d wait until it cools off (it’s still in the high 90’s here). A co-worker mentioned hives and I laughed. I don’t have hives! Then I looked online and read that there is a thing called postpartum hives. Lovely. I have a doc apt tomorrow.

  • I’m 8 months postpartum and have been having hives on my feet, hand’s and wrist. It’s driving me crazy! I’m so itchy with welts and am extremely tired. These hives are saping any energy I might have. Tomorrow I will start a 3 day fast in hopes something will give. Is there anyone who went the nonsteroidal route to rid themselves of this? Those that did take steroids, how long did you have to take it for and has it permanently gone away?

  • Hi drmoniquetello.. I’ve gone to the ER, urgent care and primary… they say it’s hives. Since my last post I now have it everywhere. Was prescribed prednisone. Was on it for 2 days and it went away so i decided not to take it anymore and it’s back in full force. My labs came back normal for Thyroid, infections,or glucose. I’m so lost. Since having my son, my body has been crazed. I juiced for 4 days no relief. Any suggestions would be great.

  • Just want to give you guys an update. Went to my obgyn, my LH and FSH are right on the edge of low “normal”. My hives have gotten better by taking high dose vitamin C 4x a day, magnesium and last and what seems like the most important is HCL Pepsin every time I eat. My hives have subsided with this daily regimen.

    • Did you have to continue taking it for the hives to subside? Did it go away while you were still breastfeeding? I just got these hives 2weeks ago and am 8 weeks postpartum.

      • Apologies for delay in replying— I took 14 days of prednisone as a taper and that helped a great deal. They cleared up. I didn’t consistently ever take any herbs or supplements, and do believe the hives are a common hormonal phenomenon.

  • So I am not sure if this is still active, but I am experiencing hives for the first time ever 8 months pp and breastfeeding. I am sure it’s a hormonal imbalance but I am being told that no one has heard of this!

  • I am 6 wks postpartum. Ive had these “hives” for about 4 weeks now. I however only breastfed the first two weeks. This began after I stopped making milk. My checkup with doc isn’t for another week. These will pop up in different areas. In about two days, those will be gone but new ones have appeared! So strange! Never had anything like this.

  • I am a midwife and have been for 6 years and have just encountered the first woman I have looked after with postnatal hives. Hers seem to be mild compared with you and your readers and I will do more research about this testosterone level idea for future knowledge (thanks for sharing). She too did a google search and tells me are due to stress from a traumatic experience.

  • Hi, I am so thankful I saw this post!! I gave birth to my 8th child almost 2 weeks ago and I am completely covered in hives. I have never had hives a day in my life!! I got a steroid shot this morning and am taking 1 zyrtec and 2 Zantac two times a day.

    • Yes this happens… such an annoyance when you also have a newborn!!!! keep in touch w your doctor, you may need a steroid taper ( like prednisone). Good luck!

  • I had serious hives starting about 5 days after my 3rd child was born (no hives on my other two). I couldn’t hold the baby without going insane from the itching and friction. The docs had no idea what the problem was – it seemed to be triggered right after I was pumping, so I assumed it was some type of reaction I had during that. Out of exhaustion and concern that I’d need meds forever that would wind up in my breast milk, I just weaned quickly and my son only got about 2 weeks of breastmilk. Happy to say he’s 3 now and a healthy formula raised baby, but initially was really upset.

    • I have them too! I’m 6 weeks postpartum and not breastfeeding. My milk never came in, unfortunately. My doctor put me on 4 weeks of prednisone, which ended yesterday, and like magic the hives are back. I can’t stand it. I don’t know what to do, but I can’t stay on prednisone forever! Will they ever go away?!

      • I’m remembering now that antihistamines help a lot. Benadryl, ranitidine combo plus steroids might do it!

  • Hi, I’m a GP from Australia (your equivalent of PCP/family physician I gather). Like you, I did the search and came up with your page. I’d always wondered about postpartum PUPPS (case studies)! Unfortunately, I’m getting this for the 2nd time. From memory, weeks 4-6+ postpartum 1st time around and similar starting now at week 3 PP too. I saw a derm who queried vascular urticaria (ordered autoimmune screen) as my rash did not subside within 24 hours. I had large confluent areas (pressure areas like buttocks and thighs) more so than generalised. Elected not to take oral prednisolone (BF) so symptom managed with topical steroid, loratadine (considering up to 40mg but will start at 20) and funnily enough, topical antacid as suggested somewhere I’d read. It’s hell on earth though I am terribly atopic. Thankfully, they subsided in the end so I did put it down to a hormone surge. I was eventually prescribed the tricyclic doxepin but passed it over again due to BF. Drs really make the worst patients! Thanks for your blog post!

    • Yes I think the antihistamine helps a lot, I used Atarax (hydroxyzine)now that I think about it. And yes, doctors are the worst patients lol!

    • How long did it take for it to go away for you? I’ve been dealing with the same problem ever since I stopped breastfeeding at 10 weeks. My dermatologist prescribed a strong steroid cream, which seems to help individual patches go away faster, but as soon as one goes away another one crops up. Antihistamines barely touch the itching. I’m six months postpartum now and it’s showing no signs of getting better.

      • Hi Zoe, in my case they cleared up after a few days of high dose Prednisone taper (started at 60 mg then tapered over 14 days). I understand the postpartum hives can become chronic, and I usually refer patients to immunology for further testing/ diagnosis then up the antihistamines considerably if confirmed. I’m sorry you’re going through this!!!

  • 3 weeks postpartum here, exclusively breastfeeding, started yesterday with one little patch, blew up after a few hours, all over legs, back, and even my face. Since then they go away after a couple of hours and pop back up in other spots in a few more hours. Craziest thing ever. Cold compresses/cold showers are going to be your best friend. Zyrtec and Zantac (H1 and H2 blockers) are helping with the itching for sure (I’m a pharmacist, but my OB said to take the exact same thing). Watch your milk supply tho, may have to do a power pump session a couple times a day while on the antihistamines (10 min on 10 min off for an hour). OB also said he has seen it many times postpartum. Definetly hormonal. They’ll put u on a steroid pack if it’s too bad. Hoping it doesn’t last as long as some folks are reporting…. good luck everyone!

  • I’m going through the same… 3rd baby never had them before I stopped breastfeeding at 7 months thinking that was the cause 12 months in still the same servere hives!!! I can’t cope no more!! No doctor or dermatologist knows and frankly didn’t care!! I feel so shit they stated 5 days pp I’m on antihistamines 4 a day every day and I’m covered head to toe!! I’m scared they will never go 😢😢😢!!

    • Hi I’m about 11 weeks post partum with my second baby and noticed hives at about 4 weeks postpartum all over my body. I took an OTC antihistamine (allegra) and it subsided for a few days. However it came back, noticed the hives on my neck, behind my ears and knees, wrists, ankles (skin folds), the hives appeared whether it was cold or hot. I was trying to figure out whether I was allergic to anything as I have never been allergic to anything prior to pregnancy. The hives and welts were appearing all over my body every other day, and one night I woke up to breastfeed my baby and felt my lips tight and numb. I looked in the mirror and saw my face and lips were swollen. I have developed angioedema. Went to the ER and was given benadryl 50 mg Intramuscularly and was rxd prednisone 40 mg daily. I was also given an epipen. Prior to finding this post I was freaking out because I had no idea what I was allergic to. I SUSPECTED IT TO BE A HORMONAL IMBALANCE and reading everyone’s post eased my anxiety levels regarding this personal health crisis. I was actually referred to an allergist but would like to see my midwife to see of she can check my hormone levels.

    • Did they ever go away for you? I got hives at 4 weeks postpartum and I am still suffering at 11 weeks postpartum. It seemed to have started on my breasts but spread to hips, legs, feet, back and arms. I take Allegra and Pepcid bid and montelukast (singulair) as recommended by my allergist And I use topical clobetasol but methyl prednisone (medrol) did nothing and I didn’t want i take a high dose steroid taper because im Working full time and breastfeeding. I just want to know if there is an end in sight — I plan to breastfeed 6 months

      • Yes they went away, with a Prednisone taper. It’s just what I had to do to get better. Good luck!

  • Here I am a year after the last post. I am suffering with hives after pregnancy (and during). I never had allergies in my life, no skin issues. I breastfed with my first baby for a year and never experienced this before. Now with my second baby I have HUGE and PAINFUL, itchy, welts that pop up in the most sensitive areas. I have no clue what triggers them. I usually get a few that last almost a day- sometimes I get a bruise in the spot where the hive was. It’s just driving me insane and I’m so irritable because of it.

    The OB and dermatologist shrug it off as PUPPS but don’t give me anything for relief. Only thing that slightly helps is Ibprophen and icing then welts because they are hot to the touch. How do I get a doctor to listen to this without trying to seem like I know more than they do (assuming it’s hormonally induced.). I would like to get my hormone levels checked- but I also want this to go away without hurting my milk supply. I am exclusively breastfeeding.

    • My hives started at 6 weeks postpartum, I lost my milk production at that point as well. After a year and a half of severe hives and crazy allergy treatment attempts, they went away immediately when I started birth control. It had to be hormonal, so frustrating that I had to suffer for so long to accidently find the cure. by the way, this was in 1985.

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