During pregnancy, cold and flu generally do not pose any danger to the mother or the baby. In fact; many pregnant women experience better immunity towards these common illnesses. That said, one must not ignore high fever, excess fatigue, coughs and/or chills experienced in pregnancy or during breastfeeding. Plenty of fluids, bed rest and herbal teas are the best natural cures for colds during pregnancy. Please do visit our link on herbs to avoid during pregnancy as many of them could cause miscarriage. Here are some safe home remedies for during pregnancy in the first, second or third trimester.
1. Medicines that are safe during pregnancy
It is best to avoid over-the-counter drugs to fight colds and coughs. In general; following drugs are generally considered safe to be taken by pregnant women:
- Dextromethorpan or Robitussin®
- Vicks® syrup
- Menthol chest rubs (can be applied around nose, temples, chest and back)
- Nasal strips for congested nasal airways
- Tylenol® for aches and pains
- Herbal lozenges
- Tums® for acidity, heartburn etc.
- Paracetamol/Acetaminophen (2 tablets of 500 mg twice a day-no more)
- Codeine in cold and flu tablets is generally safe at recommended dose
- Antihistamines diphenhydramine or chlorpheniramine-best used at night.
2. Warm water gargling
This is the best remedy for cold during first trimester for cold symptoms like sore throat and cough. Heat up some water and add a teaspoon of salt to it. Test the temperature to prevent burns. Gargle with the mixture several times a day.
3. Take herbal decaffeinated teas
Many herbal teas help relax the body and soothe away aches and pains but do avoid caffeinated teas. Also avoid the list of herbs given here as these are harmful to pregnant women. You can make a simple cold remedy with hot water, honey and ginger juice. Sip on this three times a day. This is the best remedy for sore throat and cough during pregnancy in all three trimesters.
4. Increase fluid intake
Drink plenty of fluids-water is best but you can also drink herbal teas, fresh fruit juices (without sugar) etc. Fluids are necessary to prevent dehydration and also your baby needs amniotic sac fluid. Fluids also loosen the mucus to bring about an expectorant action. Stay away from alcoholic beverages, sodas, caffeinated drinks etc. Also drink plenty of soups containing chicken, miso etc. These are as good as any herbal remedy and though they take effort in making, it is worth it. You can also add rice and pasta or vegetables to the soup and eat it with toasted bread or crackers to bring back lost appetite.
5. Get rest
Plenty of rest is the best thing you can do to prevent colds during pregnancy and also fight flu, cough and other respiratory infections. Rest helps your body heal, making it stronger to fight the cold viruses.
6. Steam inhalation
Steam inhalation is one of the best remedies for cold during pregnancy first, second or third trimester. Carefully boil water in a steamer. Cover your head with a towel bending over the steam. (Make sure the steam does not burn your skin). Inhale for 10 minutes. This is an excellent remedy to relieve nasal congestion. It can also help you get rid of headaches. (Note: You can also inhale steam in the shower.)
7. Nasal drops and saline flushes
Rinse out your nostrils with warm water using a neti pot or simply fill up a dropper filled with homemade saline solution (consisting of warm water and salt). You can also safely use over-the-counter nasal drops to clear the mucus away and relieve sinus pressure.
8. Avoid smoke
Secondary cigarette smoke and polluted areas increase nasal congestion and could lead to a sore throat. Avoid such areas as far as possible.
9. Flu vaccine
Influenza can be quite serious during pregnancy. The best way to avoid it is to take the flu shot as per your doctor’s advice.
10. Vitamin C
Take up to 250 mg of vitamin C every 3 hours or as advised by your doctor( this is for ladies in their second/third trimester only- never exceed 2000 mg of Vitamin C in first trimester).
11. Echinacea root tincture
This is the best herbal remedy for cold during pregnancy and can be safely used during all 3 trimesters. Take 1 drop of the tincture per 4 lb body weight-so if you weigh 120 lbs, take 30 drops. Combine this remedy with Vitamin C to make it even more potent.
12. Garlic- Turmeric milk
Chop a clove of garlic and boil it with a cup of milk. Add ¼ tsp of turmeric powder to it. Drink this at bedtime. This potent remedy is suitable for pregnant women having severe cough and/or chest congestion.
13. Breastfeeding during cold
Continue nursing your child even if you have a cold or cough. Drink plenty of fluids. Get as much rest as possible. Eat a healthy diet. Wash your hands from time to time and follow good hygiene practices. Avoid pseudoephedrine, a medicine found in many cold/cough tablets as it can reduce milk supply.
Seek medical help if you feel dizzy, or if your fever does not come down in 24-48 hours.