Being pregnant is a beautiful experience. You get to see your body creating a whole new human being and feel your baby moving inside your belly. However, some other, less pleasant things happen during your pregnancy as well, like your immune system not working at its maximum.
While this is necessary and prevents your body from attacking your baby, it leaves you more vulnerable to viruses that cause the common cold. So, what can you do if you get sick? Is there safe cold medicine for pregnant women? Let’s find out!
Best Cold Medicine for Pregnant Women: 4 Choices
If you catch a common cold during pregnancy, you can rest assured — your baby will be fine. While you may experience fever, headache, and sore throat, the baby will not feel any of your symptoms. Moreover, most of the symptoms will go away on their own. All you need to do is rest, drink a lot of fluids, and wait for the worst to pass.
That being said, if you need some help in alleviating aches, cough, and fever, there are some medications you can use. However, before you take any of them, it would be wise to talk to your OBGYN.
So, which is the best cold medicine for pregnant women? Here are four top choices.
1. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
For symptoms like headaches, body aches, and fever, you can always take acetaminophen, such as Tylenol. It is a safe cold medicine for pregnant women and should provide you with short-term relief.
In general, antihistamines, like Claritin or Benadryl, are considered safe for use in pregnancy. Still, you may want to consult with your doctor before taking them. That is because some do not recommend using antihistamines in the first trimester.
3. Cough Medicine
If you need something to help with your cough, you can choose:
• cough drops
• cough suppressants, such as Robitussin
• expectorants, such as Mucinex
• vapor rubs, such as Vicks VapoRub
But make sure to talk to your doctor about the recommended dosage first.
4. Saline Nasal Drops or Spray
You can safely clear your stuffy nose with plain saline sprays and drops. You can also use most steroid-containing nasal sprays, but it would be best to discuss it with your doctor. They will let you know which brands are okay to use and about the proper dosing.
Cold Medications to Avoid During Pregnancy
If you have a hard time dealing with the common cold symptoms, you might be tempted to take some medications. However, bear in mind that many over-the-counter, prescription, and homeopathic drugs can harm your baby and cause complications. So, here are some meds you should steer clear of during pregnancy.
1. Ibuprofen, Aspirin, and Naproxen
We usually take ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen to reduce fever or relieve pain. However, these meds can cause serious complications in pregnant women, especially if you take them in the first trimester.
2. DayQuil and Sudafed
Doctors also advise against using decongestants such as DayQuil and Sudafed after the first trimester. Even during the first trimester, you should take a very limited amount.
3. Nasal Drops and Sprays with Oxymetazoline
Non-steroidal nasal sprays with oxymetazoline are not safe to use in pregnancy.
4. Vitamins and Herbal Remedies
Vitamins and herbal medicines are healthy options for people in general. But the situation is different for pregnant women. The usual vitamin dosages might be too high for you and your baby. That is why doctors often recommend vitamins specially designed for pregnant women.
Also, while herbs have many health benefits, some of them can harm your baby and even cause miscarriage. Therefore, be careful and always consult your OBGYN before taking any herbal remedies.
How to Know Whether You Are Dealing with a Cold or the Flu
Think about your symptoms. Are they mild or more severe? With the common cold, symptoms turn up gradually and are milder. For instance, you might have low-grade or no fever at all. Also, you will feel a sore throat for a day or two, but the main symptoms are a cough and a runny nose.
On the other hand, influenza, or the flu, tends to cause more severe symptoms that appear suddenly. You will most likely experience a high fever (usually 101 to 104 degrees F or even higher). That will be accompanied by a headache, muscle soreness, general weakness, fatigue, sneezing, and chills. Also, your sore throat and cough will get even worse by the second or third day.
Likewise, the flu lasts longer than a common cold. So, it might be two to three weeks before your symptoms fully disappear.
What to Do to Relieve Cold Symptoms
Aside from taking cold medicine for pregnant women, there are other things you can do at home to help yourself get better. Here are some of them.
1. Make an Effort to Eat
Lack of appetite is a typical symptom of the common cold. However, you and your baby still need your daily dose of healthy nutrients. So, try to keep eating, even if you don’t feel the need. Small portions of healthy food will help you get better sooner and give your baby all it needs to develop.
2. Rest as Much as Possible
Your body needs time to rest whenever you get sick, although it won’t necessarily speed up your recovery. So, when you have a common cold, try getting as much rest as possible. If you have a hard time sleeping because of your stuffy nose, try elevating your head using a few pillows. You might also want to try nasal strips — you can easily buy them in a drug store, and they do not contain harmful substances.
3. Moderate Exercise Is Good
If you feel well enough, you can also do some light pregnancy-safe exercises. That will help you recover faster.
4. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Fever, runny nose, sneezing, and other common cold symptoms cause your body to lose fluids. So, to avoid you or your baby becoming dehydrated, you should drink a lot of fluids. For example, try sipping warm beverages, such as tea with honey (this will also help with your dry cough) or a hot soup or broth. Furthermore, you can always go for water and fruit juices.
5. Eat Food Rich in Vitamin C
Boost your immune system with foods that are packed with vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, kiwi, melon, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, red cabbage, and bell peppers.
6. Eat Food That Contains Zinc
11 to 15 mg of zinc a day will also help you fight off the common cold. So, make sure to eat beef, turkey, eggs, pork, oatmeal, or wheat germ daily.
7. Buy a Humidifier
Dry air will only make your symptoms worse, especially at night. So, to make sleeping easier, use a warm or cold air humidifier.
8. Warm Salt Water Gargle
Saltwater helps kill germs and viruses. So gargling with salt water will ease your sore throat and calm your cough.