A cold or a cough is never a welcome ailment, but it is especially uncomfortable in pregnancy when you cannot safely take the usual over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve the symptoms. To make matters worse, the infection-associated discomfort seems far more taxing when you are already in such a vulnerable state than it would otherwise.
During pregnancy, when your protective maternal instincts kick in full throttle, it’s quite natural to stress about every minor inconvenience and health hiccup that you may face in terms of its repercussions on your unborn baby’s growth and well-being.
However, expecting mothers can heave a sigh of relief after knowing that the case of their sniffles will have no bearing on fetal development as the baby is cocooned inside the womb, which is beyond the reach of the virus.
Colds and coughs are common viral infections of the upper respiratory tract that affect your nose, throat, sinuses, and upper airways. There are over 200 viruses that can give rise to cold symptoms, of which the rhinovirus is perhaps the most usual suspect.
This infection is easily transmitted from person to person, and the symptoms usually persist for a week, although an accompanying cough can go on for about 3 weeks.
Unlike in a bacterial infection, regular antibiotics are rendered ineffective against viral infections. Thus, a common cold is one such mild infection with no established cure or antidote. Many times, you have to wait out the duration of the cold, using home remedies to relieve your symptoms.
During pregnancy, the woman’s immune system functions at a slower pace. This diminished immune response is a natural and necessary body mechanism to prevent the immune system from targeting the growing fetus with antibodies, as it would any other foreign entity.
However, the mother carrying the fetus ends up bearing the brunt of this compromised immunity as it makes it is easier for a gestating woman to contract a cold or a cough, which may then last longer than if she were not pregnant. These changes in the immune system can also affect the woman’s heart and lungs, making her more susceptible to severe illness arising from the flu.
The first sign of a cold and cough is typically a scratchy or a sore throat. Other signs include:
While you are suffering through fatigue and symptoms of a common cold, it is important to know that it is not typically dangerous to your baby.
Here are the top home remedies to get relief from a cold and cough during pregnancy.
To reduce your fever when suffering from a cold and cough, you can take a cool or lukewarm sponge bath. This is one of the safest, easiest, and all-natural ways to bring down and normalize a high body temperature.
Blocked nasal passages easily take the cake when it comes to the discomforts that come in the wake of a cold and cough, particularly so during pregnancy. One remedy for this symptom that rarely misses its mark is salt water.
Salt water acts as a nasal decongestant by moistening your nasal passages, clearing the built-up mucus from your nostrils, and soothing your inflamed nasal tissue. This, in turn, helps make your breathing easier and more comfortable.
Experts agree that a saline nasal irrigation can be safely used to relieve nasal congestion in pregnancy as they are completely unmedicated.
Sipping on a hot bowl of chicken soup is one of the tastiest and most comforting ways to treat a cold in pregnancy.
Homemade chicken soup is rich in anti-inflammatory properties as well as nutrients and vitamins that help fight the infection from within.
Aromatic seasonings enhance the opening of upper airway passages, facilitating removal of the mucus trapped there. Along with hot tea, chicken soup helps improve the functioning of protective cilia in nasal passages, further protecting the body from unwanted viruses and bacteria.
Researchers have found that traditional chicken soup contains a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity, supporting faster healing for upper respiratory tract infections.
The ideal homemade recipe includes organic chicken combined with celery, onions, carrots, parsley, mushrooms, and parsnips for their medicinal and antioxidant properties.
Adding spices such as sage, thyme, salt, and pepper strengthens the body’s ability to inhibit neutrophils; neutrophil’s chemotaxic activities are associated with your body’s response to viral infections.
Ginger is another time-tested remedy for colds and coughs during pregnancy.
Ginger soup, comprising hot water with dried ginger powder or grated raw ginger, works as the perfect comfort food for people in the throes of a cold attack, as it helps them keep warm.
What makes ginger all the more preferable for pregnant women is that it poses no health risks to them or their child and offers the added bonus of relieving their morning sickness to some extent. Some have even found ginger helpful for alleviating mild heartburn, a digestive distress that expecting mothers are quite familiar with.
Turmeric has long been used to soothe the common cold and cough and is another safe alternative during pregnancy.
The properties found in turmeric can boost your immunity and can be effective at easing a sore throat and nasal inflammation.
Caution: Turmeric is safe for a pregnant woman so long as it is consumed as a spice to season foods. Turmeric supplements or using the spice as a type of alternative medicine during pregnancy is completely off-limits.
Furthermore, in case of any pre-existing allergies to turmeric, it’s best that pregnant women steer clear of using this remedy.
When dealing with a cold or a cough, many people don’t drink enough water. Keeping the body adequately hydrated is especially important during pregnancy, for the health of both the mother and the baby.
This necessity becomes all the more profound when the mother’s immune system is busy fighting an infection such as a common cold. Staying well hydrated helps to thin the body’s secretions, making it easier to expel mucus and reduce congestion.
Vitamin C enhances the body’s natural immune response to infection by supplying the body with a heavy dose of disease-fighting antioxidants. A daily intake of vitamin C may help keep the common cold away, but the evidence is unclear if it reduces the duration or severity of a cold.
You can increase your vitamin C intake by eating foods such as Indian gooseberries, cantaloupes, oranges, grapefruit, limes, lemons, kiwis, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and bell peppers.
Vitamin C is also available over the counter in the form of a supplement.
It is important to get enough rest in pregnancy, which can be particularly difficult when you are grappling with respiratory congestion.
Try using a humidifier, which adds moisture to the air to ease stuffiness and helps thin your mucus secretions to facilitate their smooth elimination from the nasal passages.
Rest is crucial when you are pregnant, and more so when suffering from an illness while pregnant. It is the best way to give your body the time and energy to fight off the infection.
Napping two or three times a day is a good habit to provide your body with a good amount of rest and recuperation. Getting the much-needed shut-eye also helps keep your blood pressure and stress levels in check.
The cold symptoms tend to persist for 10–14 days, and the downside is that just as you are on your way to full recovery, the viral infection might make a comeback. If you suspect that the symptoms are getting progressively worse or notice no sigh of recuperation even after 2 weeks, you might want to fill your doctor in about your condition.
Flu-like symptoms, on the other, should be reported to your healthcare provider right away. The worrisome symptoms include:
The Centers for Disease Control and Backention (CDC) recommend that every pregnant mother receive a preventative flu shot and treated immediately with prescription antiviral medication if flu is suspected.
These actions could prevent serious complications to the baby, the most serious of which is related to the mother’s fever. Fever in pregnancy may be associated with neural tube defects and other congenital abnormalities in the unborn child.
If your cold is severe enough to disrupt your regular sleeping and eating patterns, your doctor’s help is warranted.
The same stands true if you experience symptoms such as throbbing sinuses, vaginal bleeding, and chest pain while coughing or wheezing.
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