Colds and Pregnancy

Your Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

Why are pregnant women more prone to colds and flu?

The immune system is lowered slightly during pregnancy in order to stop a pregnant woman’s body from rejecting the unborn baby.  Pregnant women might be more vulnerable to infections, such as coughs, colds and flu.

What can I do to reduce my risk of getting a cold or the flu during pregnancy?

You can help to boost your immune system by eating a healthy diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.  These contain antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C, which help to fight infections.  Your doctor probably will prescribe a vitamin and mineral supplement specifically formulated for pregnant women.  Make sure you get plenty of rest.  Try to minimize stress as much as you can.  Your immune system is stronger when you do not smoke.  Of course, it also is healthier for baby when the mother avoids tobacco during pregnancy.

Is it safe to take antibiotics during pregnancy?

There are many antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy, but some are not.  Make sure your doctor knows you are pregnant.  Never take antibiotics that are left over from a previous prescription, and always finish the medicine that is prescribed to you.

How can I treat coughs and colds safely?

It is safe to use a salt water throat gargle and a saline nose spray.  Vapor rubs and cough lozenges are both safe.  For fever and pain, use only regular or extra strength Tylenol.  Do not use aspirin, Motrin or ibuprofen.  These can cause problems with the baby.  Getting proper rest and drinking lots of fluids are always recommended to fight a cold, whether pregnant or not.  In addition, it is a good idea to:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet, including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to give you the right amounts of vitamins and minerals, carbohydrate, protein and fat.
  • Try steam inhalation for a cold with a stuffy nose.  With a towel over your head, lean over a bowl of hot water with two or three drops of eucalyptus oil added and inhale to help clear the congestion.
  • Prepare a soothing drink of hot water, h2y and lemon to help ease a sore throat.