When you become pregnant, your immune system is likely to change. As a result of these changes, you may contract a cold or a cough at some point during your pregnancy. In addition, your illness may last longer. The good news is that even though you probably feel fatigued, the symptoms of a cold or flu are not typically dangerous to your baby. However, it is important to take the necessary measures to avoid contracting a cold or a cough while pregnant and to treat it once you get one.
How to Prevent Getting a Cough or Cold During Pregnancy
In order to avoid getting a cold or cough, the most important step to take is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Make sure you are eating nutritiously, getting the necessary amount of sleep, and exercising on a regular basis. In addition to this, it is important that you take your prenatal vitamins, as well as probiotics.
Wash your hands regularly. If you know you are around someone who is struggling with a cold, avoid touching their hands or eating after them. Take extra effort to wash your hands more frequently when you are around those who have a cold or cough.
How to Treat a Cold or Cough During Pregnancy
If you get a cold or a cough, try treating it by doing the following:
- Get ample rest – Take naps, sleep through the night, and sit down to relax. These are great ways to give your body much needed down time. Learn more about the importance of bed rest during pregnancy.
- Drink plenty of fluids – Drink water, juice, or broth to add necessary fluids back into your body.
- Eat well – Even if you cannot stomach larger meals, try eating small portions often.
For your own comfort, it is important that you treat the symptoms associated with your cold or a cough.
Natural remedies to some of your most bothersome symptoms include:
- Reduce congestion – Place a humidifier in your room, keep your head elevated on your pillow while resting, or use nasal strips.
- Alleviate your sore throat – Suck on ice chips, drink warm tea, or gargle with warm salt water.
It is best to reduce the number of over-the-counter medications you take. Many medications you normally would use to treat the symptoms of your cold are not safe to take during your pregnancy. The following is a list of medications that pose little risk to your baby during pregnancy; however, it is best to consult with your doctor before taking any medications to relieve your symptoms.
- Acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol) can be used to alleviate fevers, headaches, and body aches.
- Anesthetic sore throat lozenges can ease the pain in your throat.
- Codeine and dextromethorphan can often be used as cough suppressants.
When to See Your Doctor
It is important to call your doctor if your symptoms are causing you to stop eating or sleeping, or if they last for more than a couple of days without improving. It is also important to consult your physician if you develop a fever that is 102° Fahrenheit or greater.
Lastly, if you begin to cough up discolored mucus or if your cough is accompanied by chest pain and/or wheezing, make sure to call your doctor. They may need to prescribe an antibiotic to kill the infection.
A Special Consideration: Whooping Cough
Whooping cough is a contagious infection that is characterized by excessive, violent coughing followed by an intake of breath that makes a whooping sound. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that all pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine during each of their pregnancies, preferably between the 27th-36th weeks of pregnancy.
This will ensure that protection against whooping cough is passed down to your baby for the first couple of months after birth. Since your child will not receive their first whooping cough vaccine until they are 2 months old, getting this vaccine while you are pregnant will ensure your infant is protected until then. Learn more about taking vaccinations during your pregnancy.
Last updated: February 1, 2018 at 14:54 pm
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Yankowitz, Jerome. (2008). Drugs in Pregnancy in Gibbs, Ronald S., Karlan, Beth Y., & Haney, Arthur F., & Nygaard, Ingrid E. (Eds.), Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th edition (126). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
2. The First Trimester: First 12 weeks in Johnson, Robert V. (Ed.), Mayo Clinic Complete Book of Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year (136). New York, NY: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
3. Common concerns and questions of pregnancy in Harms, Roger W. (Ed.), Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy (432-3). New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
4. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2013, Mar. 19). Whooping Cough.
1. Pop a Zinc Supplement
This was suggested to me by my dermatologist of all people.
According to Web MD, zinc taken within 24 hours upon feeling sick reduces the length of your cold by approximately one day.
It doesn’t have to be a special brand, just any over-the-counter zinc will do.
You don’t want to take zinc long-term though because it can affect your immunity to future colds.
One brand that has been clinically proven to reduce the length of a cold is Cold-Eeze.
2. Up your Vitamin C too
Experts have also found vitamin C can help reduce the length of sickness if you take it at the very beginning of a cold.
You can take Vitamin C as a supplement, or you can get in the mega-vitamin with foods.
Scroll to the bottom for our Feel Better Faster Smoothie!
4. Slurp up some chicken noodle soup
According to CNN, chicken soup contains neutrophils, which stop the release of bacteria stimulated by the cold virus.
The onions, carrots, and celery help to strengthen the immune system while the broth hydrates your body and helps produce nasal clearance. Organic bone broth can also help with a slew of health concerns from inflammation to better skin.
5. Eat the Right Kind of Foods
WebMd has a great list, and I just had to share it with you!
- Bananas: Soothe upset stomachs.
- Bell Peppers: Loaded with vitamin C.
- Blueberries: Curbs diarrhea, high in natural aspirin. (May lower fevers and help with the aches and pains.)
- Carrots: Loaded with beta-carotene.
- Chili Peppers: Can open sinuses, and help break up mucus in the lungs.
- Cranberries: Help prevent bacteria from sticking to cells lining the bladder and urinary tract.
- Mustard & Horseradish: Helps break up mucus in air passages.
- Onion: Has phytochemicals purported to help the body clear bronchitis and other infections.
- Rice: Curbs diarrhea.
- Tea: Black and green tea (not herbals) contain catechin, a phytochemical purported to have natural antibiotic and anti-diarrhea effects.
The one food I avoid is dairy. While studies have shown that dairy doesn’t actually increase phlegm, it may make it thicker and more irritating than before.
7. Use Some Salt
Salt offers two cold remedies you can do right at home.
Gargling with Salt Water
It helps ease the pain, break up mucus, and kill bacteria. The Mayo Clinic found gargling with salt water helped to pull fluid from inflamed tissues in the through and loosen mucus which helps remove bacteria and allergens.
Epsom Salt Bath
A warm bath with Epsom salts can act as a natural detox. Some Eastern medicine suggests adding ginger as well, but I like plain Epsom salt.
- For kids under 60 lbs, add 1/2 cup to a standard bath.
- For people over 100 lbs, add 2 cups or more to a standard bath.
The idea is to take a hot bath for about 40 minutes to help release the toxins in the body. You can read more about the idea of a hot salt bath here.
9. Consider a humidifier
The humidity will help the mucus break up and move out of your system.
It can moisturize the nose, throat, and lung passages which can help you feel less congested.
You may also find adding a vapor rub to certain humidifiers may help you breathe better overall.
10. Go to the pharmacy
You may need to a decongestant or a medicine to help ease your cough so you can rest.
Some generics are as low as $4 dollars now–so why not?
Keep in mind anything that is a decongestant is kept with the pharmacist now.
Even if it says something like Sudafed, the active ingredient isn’t pseudoephedrine like it used to be.
You can buy pseudoephedrine products with the help of a pharmacist over-the-counter, though.
Did you know?
Also, did you know that you don’t actually catch a cold from the cold weather?
The whole idea of running out with a wet head in the winter leading to a cold is a myth.
The reason colds and viruses spread more in the colder months is because we (human beings) are typically in close quarters during this time of year.
So it’s easier for us to catch a cold from shaking someone’s hand, touching an infected doorknob or a sneeze.
Since you are reading this, I assume you are sick….I hope you feel better really soon!
We hope you enjoy this Vitamin C packed smoothie as well!
- 1 cup Orange Juice
- 1 cup Strawberries, frozen
- 1 cup Peaches, frozen
- 1/2 cup Pineapple Chunks, frozen
- 1/2 cup Ice Cubes
Blend until smooth. If it's too thick or too runny for your preference, add more juice or water for a less-thick smoothie.
What are your favorite cold remedies to get over a cold faster?
Have you ever tried any of these cold remedies?