Pregnancy is a time period during which a woman has to be extra careful about everything around her. Everything and anything that happens to you during pregnancy will not just impact your own body, but will also affect the child growing inside you. Therefore, one needs to be extra careful to avoid catching any kind of diseases during this time. However, it is often inevitable to catch certain diseases – the common cold being the biggest example. Anyone can catch a common cold at any given point in time. It is no different even when you are pregnant. In the past, if you caught a cold or came down with the flu, you could treat it easily by taking over-the-counter decongestants or any prescription drugs as well. However, pregnancy changes everything as you are left wondering what to take and what will be safe for the baby as well. While there are many medications for cold that you can take while being pregnant, but you are definitely going to think twice before taking them – after all, you would not want the medications to have any kind of side effect on your baby. So what can you take for a cold when pregnant? Let’s take a look.
What To Take For A Cold When Pregnant?
Catching a cold while pregnant becomes difficult to manage as you are unable to take your usual ‘go-to’ medication. However, there are several other ways in which you can get some relief from the cold symptoms.
Generally, most doctor will advise you to avoid taking any medications in the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy. This is considered to be the most crucial time for the development of the baby’s vital organs and therefore high caution has to be exercised during these 12 weeks. In fact, many doctors also extend this recommended caution till up to and after 28 weeks even. Therefore, it is necessary that you consult your doctor before you consider taking cold medication while you are pregnant.
There are, however, many medications that are considered to be perfectly safe for the growing baby after 12 weeks of pregnancy. Let us take a look at some of these:
- Cough drops or cough lozenges
- You can use menthol of vapor rub on your temples, under the nose, and your chest as well
- Nasal strips (sticky pads that help open up congested airways) are also considered to be safe
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is considered safe to use in aches and pains, as well as fever
- Cough expectorant during the day and cough suppressant during the night
- Any plain cough syrup
- Cough syrups like Robitussin (dextromethorphan) and Robitussin DM (dextromethorphan-guaifenesin), but do consult your physician before taking them.
It is recommended that you avoid the all-in-one medications for cold which are generally available over-the-counter at pharmacies. These medications combine many ingredients to tackle multiple symptoms. You should, instead, choose single medications targeting the symptoms you are facing.
Medications to be avoided while pregnant, unless your doctor recommends otherwise, include:
- ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
- aspirin (Bayer)
- naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve)
- Antibiotic called Bactrim
These medications are known to increase the risk for problems.
Home Remedies To Try For A Cold When Pregnant
Instead of straightaway opting for medications, you should instead try out these home remedies when you come down with a cold while being pregnant.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Gargle with lukewarm salt water is a proven home remedy to get rid of sore throat or a cough.
Apart from these, if you notice a worsening of your symptoms, then you can try the following:
- Having a hot chicken soup is an excellent home remedy to help soothe the congestion and relieve inflammation.
- Use saline nasal drops or sprays which will help loosen up the nasal mucus and also soothe the inflamed nasal passage.
- Using a humidifier will also help loosen congestion. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can also use a facial steamer or even a hot shower as a home remedy to ease your symptoms.
- Have a lukewarm cup of decaffeinated tea and add lemon or honey to it to get relief from a sore throat naturally.
- If you also have accompanying sinus pain along with your cold, then you can try using cold and hot packs.
- You can also try taking vitamin C tablets to help speed up recovery.
Natural Remedies To Take For A Cold While Pregnant
It is recommended that to fight off colds during pregnancy, you use natural remedies that will help you reduce the severity of your symptoms and yet not cause any harm to your baby. Here are some natural remedies that can help you fight off a cold while pregnant.
Apple Cider Vinegar: This helps to alkalize the body, thus helping to kill off the viruses. Most bacteria and viruses are unable to sustain for long in an alkalized environment. So if while pregnant, you notice the first symptoms of cold, then you can opt for this simple natural remedy of using apple cider vinegar in the following manner – mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of lukewarm water, gargle with it and then drink it. You can repeat the process hourly till your symptoms disappear. Rest assured that it is perfectly safe to have apple cider vinegar during pregnancy.
Coconut Oil: This oil is known for its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties making it a useful natural remedy for many ailments. Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which destroys the lipid coating around viruses, thus making it easier for the immune system to kill them off. Pregnant women can safely use coconut oil, both internally as well as topically. You can either use coconut oil as a cooking oil or you can directly mix a couple of spoons of coconut oil in any hot beverage.
Ginger: A time-tested remedy for colds during pregnancy, ginger is good for warming the body and clearing up toxins from the body. It also improves blood circulation and gets rid of harmful viruses and bacteria, keeping both the mother and baby safe. A cup of fresh ginger tea with a dash of lemon and a spoon of honey will help you fight off the cold naturally. Ginger also helps relieve heartburn during pregnancy.
In fact, a study conducted in Turkey by the Ondokuz Mayıs University Health Science Faculty on pregnant women found that complementary and alternative medications (including herbal and natural remedies) used during pregnancy had no known side effects and most women also considered these medications safe for use during the pregnancy time period.
Being pregnant often leads to a weaker immune system. The reason behind this is that a weaker immune system prevents the body from rejecting the fetus. However, this also leaves pregnant women much more susceptible to all sorts of infections, both viral and bacterial. This means that pregnant women are more likely to catch a cold. A good idea is to follow some preventive tips in order to reduce your chances of getting sick in the first place while pregnant. Some things you can do include:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Avoid close contact with sick family members or friends
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Keep your stress levels low
While in most cases, a round of the common cold is not problematic for your unborn child, it becomes more serious if the cold turns out to be the flu. Therefore, if you notice any change in the severity of your symptoms, do make sure to consult your doctor immediately. Follow your doctor’s advice to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
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Koç, Z., Sağlam, Z. and Topatan, S., 2017. Determination of the usage of complementary and alternative medicine among pregnant women in the Northern Region of Turkey. Collegian, 24(6), pp.533-539.