One of the very unfair things about pregnancy is that your immune system may not be as strong as it usually is. I never catch a cold . . . unless I’m pregnant, and then I come down with everything that goes around. We’re going on our second full week dealing with colds around our house and being pregnant, I’m limited in my treatment options.
While there are some cold medicines that are safe during pregnancy, I’m allergic to all of them, and it’s generally a good idea to limit the number of medications you take during pregnancy. The one exception to this, is treating a fever. Fever’s can be dangerous for your baby so if you develop a fever you’ll want to take acetaminophen to lower the fever and call your doctor if your fever goes too high or won’t go away.
That doesn’t mean you are out of options if you come down with a cold while pregnant. You still have quite a few natural (and mostly natural) options for treating colds during pregnancy.
I have to preface this one by saying that I am the biggest chicken in the world. I hate having water in my nose and I put off trying a sinus rinse for years, even though I keep hearing how great they are for clearing out sinus congestions. Even after coming home from BlogHer 2011 with a Waterpik SinuSense Water Pulsator, I still put off using it until I came down with this most recent cold. My son, who suffers from asthma and is prone to catching every respiratory infection that comes near us, was brave enough to try it out and told me it wasn’t that bad, but even then I put it off.
This time, I was just out of options so I gave in and gave it a try. I have to say, it is nearly as bad as I thought it was, but, after not being able to breath through my nose for over a week I could suddenly breath clearly. I’m told this gets easier to use with practice and I may have to keep practicing because it’s the only thing that’s giving me any relief from this horrible cold.
Treat Colds with Steam
Warm, moist air can do wonders when you are sick and congested. We frequently steam up the bathroom by turning the shower as hot as it goes then sit in there with the doors shut until we can breath again. This will probably not get rid of your symptoms for too long but it can loosen up enough mucous to allow you to really blow your nose and get that stuff out of there to get some relief.
Sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom can give you similar results that will last through the night. We have a Crane Humidifier in a cute animal design that my kids love and it works great when one of us comes down with a cold, especially during pregnancy when cold treatment options are limited.
Treat with Food
When I’m sick, my appetite is usually the first thing to suffer, which is unfortunate because food can play a great role in helping you feel better. Chicken noodle soup is always a classic standby and is super easy to make from scratch in your crockpot even when you don’t feel like cooking. Many solid foods may not sound good if you have a sore throat and you may be limited in your food choices if you are suffering from morning sickness on top of your cold. Try vegetable puree soups or fruit smoothies
Drinking orange juice and grape fruit juice can do wonders for a sore throat and is a great source of vitamin C, which will ultimately help you fight off your cold. Hot liquids are especially helpful when you aren’t feeling well (which is why soup is always a popular choice). My family often makes Hot Russian Tea when we aren’t feeling well. It is another great source of vitamin C and it really helps to sooth your throat. My only complaint is it has a lot of sugar in the recipe we use. I’m need to test it out using honey as an alternative since honey can be very soothing for a sore throat.
If you want something fast, plain old hot water with some lemon juice and honey can be a great natural cold remedy during pregnancy.
You have to be careful with supplements during pregnancy. I’m a bit fan of the Emergen-C vitamin drinks when I’m coming down with a cold and was given the okay by my obgyn, but as with any supplement, you’ll want to check with your own doctor before trying something new.
As a general rule, when I’m sick during pregnancy I turn to the remedies I use when my kids are sick. Vicks VapoRub is usually the first thing we go for when a cold hits our house because as a topical ointment, you aren’t getting as much of the medicine into your body as you would be taking a cough syrup.
While I hate the way I feel when I’m slathered in VapoRub, there are few things that can beat it when it comes to helping treat cough and congestion. I’ll often use VapoRub before sitting in a steamed up bathroom to really clean out some of that congestion.
The best way to deal with a cold during pregnancy is to avoid getting one in the first place. Practice religious hand washing habits and encourage everyone in your home to do the same. Be especially vigilant about washing your hands before eating and after coming home from a public place. Avoid anyone who looks like they may be sick and try and keep your hands away from your face after touching high traffic items like door knobs or shopping carts. Don’t share a tube of toothpaste with anyone else, especially if anyone in your home has been sick and keep fresh air flowing in your home by opening windows whenever the weather allows for it.
What is your favorite way to treat a cold during pregnancy?