Whilst catching a cold is always a nuisance, becoming unwell when pregnant can feel far more complicated. It’s quite natural to be concerned about the impact a cold or flu could have on you and your unborn child’s health, and although in the past you may have happily used over-the-counter medications and remedies now you worry whether they are safe or not.
The unfortunate facts of the matter are that colds and flu are common, and pregnant women are more likely to contract them as their immune system is suppressed to prevent the woman’s body rejecting the unborn baby. The ramifications of this include that pregnant women often suffer more with the symptoms of a cold, take longer to recover and are more susceptible to the complications of a cold like bronchitis, sinus infections and pneumonia.
So here’s the low-down on how you can handle the most common of problems, the common cold.
Prevention is better than cure
- Have the flu shot: the fluvax is safe in pregnancy and helps protect mums and babies for up to six months after birth. It’s provided free to pregnant women by the government and can be given at any time in pregnancy. So see your GP and be proactive!
- Wash your hands often
- Get enough sleep
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Avoid close contact with sick family or friends
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce your stress
Non-medical treatments and remedies
- Have plenty of rest
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Try saline nasal drops/sprays to loosen nasal mucous and sooth inflamed nostrils
- Breath warm, humid air to loosen congestion – a hot steamy shower can work wonders
- Chicken soup!!
- Relieve a sore throat with honey or lemon added to a warm cup of water or decaffeinated tea
- Sleep better by elevating your head
Drugs and Medications
The following are considered safe in pregnancy
- Paracetamol (for fevers, aches and pains)
- Menthol rub on chest, temples or under the nose
- Cough drops and lozenges
- Cough Syrups
- Mylanta, Tums, Quick-eze or similar for heartburn or upset stomach
Medications to avoid
- “All-in-One” medications, as it can be hard to determine all the active ingredients – choose single medications for the symptoms that are causing the biggest issues
- Ibuprofen (Brufen, Nurofen, Advil, and others)
When to see a doctor?
The common cold rarely causes serious problems for either the pregnant mother or unborn child, but Influenza should be taken more seriously. It’s important to seek medical advice immediately if you experience any of the following
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain or pressure
- Vaginal bleeding
- Severe vomiting
- High fever not reduced by paracetamol
- Decreased fetal movements