Cough and Cold During Pregnancy: Natural Remedies That Help

Need a little relief? Find out how real food and common supplements can help you feel better in a flash.

Do you have a cold during pregnancy? Learn about several safe and natural remedies for coughs and colds using real food, common sense & gentle supplements.

That stuffy nose you chalked up to nothing has now become a full on cold during pregnancy, huh? Luckily, there are many safe and natural remedies that help fight a cough and cold during pregnancy, and many of them are already in your pantry!

Is the Common Cold Dangerous During Pregnancy?

Good news! Your baby is protected from the common cold during pregnancy, meaning your cold won’t pass through the placenta and infect him.

However, it’s possible that your symptoms could be exacerbated or last longer during pregnancy, since your immune system is working at a slightly lower function and your changing body may not be able to deal with cold symptoms as effectively (like chest congestion).

Cold Medicine During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

Many government organizations recommend Tylenol for fever or pain, as well as over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, such as Robitussin and Coricidin for cough and congestion (after the first trimester). However, Tylenol during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk for ADHD in the child. It is also hard on the liver of the pregnant mom.

That said, all medication—even ones deemed safe—should be used sparingly during pregnancy.

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What Should I Do If I Have Cold Symptoms During Pregnancy?

  • Get lots of rest and hydrate. You need more of both when you have a cold during pregnancy.
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods and reduce or eliminate nutrient poor foods, such as white sugar and flour.
  • Take the following supplements (with your doctor’s approval, of course):
    • Vitamin D: 10,000 IU a day until cold subsides. Try these easy-to-take drops.
    • Vitamin A: 10,000 IU a day with doctor or midwife’s approval. (Only in the form of cod liver oil, liver pills or organ meat)
    • Vitamin C: About 2000 mg spread over the course of the day. Use a lower dosage if you experience bowel distress.Try organic, food-based vitamin C, which is gentler and doesn’t contain GMOs. This is a good one and so is this one.
    • Zinc: 50mg daily for the first two days. This food-based one is effective.
    • Selenium: The amount in your prenatal vitamin should be sufficient, but you could also consume two Brazil nuts a day to boost your intake.
    • Probiotics: Double your normal daily amount.

Home Remedies for a Cold During Pregnancy

In addition to the above, there are many effective, safe, and natural home remedies for cough and cold during pregnancy, many of which can be used during the flu as well. Here is a list of things you can keep on hand in case you become sick:

Garlic

Part of the onion family, garlic is a powerhouse against the cold during pregnancy. In fact, in one study, daily consumption of a garlic supplement reduced people’s chance of a cold by over 60 percent! For those who did get sick, garlic helped them get better faster.

  • Consume 1 crushed, raw garlic clove with each meal. Smear in raw honey for taste and added benefits.
  • If your cold is acute, eat 1 crushed, raw clove every 2-3 hours.

Apple Cider Vinegar

How does it work? Apple cider vinegar alkalinizes the body, and most illnesses can’t thrive in alkaline environments. It also contains good bacteria to help fight of infection.

  • Mix 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (preferably raw) into water or tea and drink three times a day.
  • Gargle apple cider vinegar to soothe a sore throat.

Honey

Raw, local honey is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic. (source)

  • Take 1 teaspoon three times a day

Onion

Raw onion has phytochemicals that help keep the respiratory tract open. (source)

  • Make a black bean or beef burger and top it with lots of onions and mustard. Add sauerkraut for an extra dose of probiotics!

Lemon

A known antibacterial that’s rich in vitamin C, lemon also helps alkalinize the body. (source)

  • Juice two lemons and add to a quart mason jar. Add filtered water and 1 tablespoon of raw honey and a dash of sea salt for added minerals. Drink throughout day.

Asian mushrooms

Maitake, shitake, and reishi mushrooms have antibacterial and antiviral properties. (source)

Coconut oil

This pantry staple has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. (source)

  • Add 1/8. teaspoon of peppermint extract to 2 tablespoons of raw coconut oil. Add 10 drops of stevia or 1 tablespoon of raw honey. Mix well. Spread thin on a piece of parchment paper. Freeze for 15 minutes. Eat as a yummy peppermint bark dessert!

Vitamins and minerals

Especially vitamin D, vitamin A from cod liver oil or liver only, vitamin C, zinc, and selenium.

  • Mix 1 teaspoon of camu camu powder with1/4 cup of yogurt and 1 teaspoon of raw honey.

Clear, unsweetened liquids

Dehydration is more of a concern in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women, so being diligent about staying hydrated is important.

Homemade chicken soup

Studies prove this age-old remedy really works!

  • Take your bone broth and cook it in a pot with onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms, parsley, and diced or shredded chicken. Add sea salt for taste and a mineral boost.

Warm salt water

In a study of 400 people, those who gargled three times per day were 40 percent less likely to have symptoms of upper respiratory infections.

  • Use as a gargle for a sore throat or with a neti pot for congestion.

High quality probiotic

Probiotics support general health and a good immune response.

Elderberry syrup

Many pregnant mamas have great success with elderberry syrup to relieve cough and cold symptoms. (source) It’s an immune booster that can help speed up recovery. You can often find it in the natural section of your local grocery store, or you can make your own fairly easily.

  • Take 1 tablespoon of elderberry syrup up to four times per day.

Other herbs

The following herbs can be helpful for cold symptoms, but should only be used in food/beverages and not in concentrated supplement form during pregnancy.

  • Cayenne powder: antimicrobial, analgesic, and expectorant
  • Gingerantimicrobial and anti-inflammatory (good for an upset tummy)
  • Thyme: antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant, and astringent (great for respiratory infections, coughs, and upset tummy)
  • Cinnamonantiviral and antibiotic

What If My Partner or Family Member Has a Cough or a Cold?

There are many effective ways to avoid catching a cold from a family member. Just because they are sick doesn’t mean that you have to be sick too!

  • Assign another adult to care for the sick individual, if possible.
  • Wash hands often. Avoid contact with the sick persons tissues, toothbrush, etc.
  • Keep surfaces and linens clean.
  • Allow fresh air into your home.
  • Remind the sick person to cover their mouth when coughing and to wash hands frequently.

Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System to Prevent a Cold

These suggestions can also help stave off a cough or a cold. They are great overall health habits during pregnancy and beyond, too.

  • Get enough sleep. Studies show people who don’t get enough sleep get sick more often. If you are having trouble, be sure to check out our pregnancy sleep post.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Focus on getting lots of vegetables, fruits, protein, and healthy fats. Avoid white sugar and limit grains. Your body needs lots of nutrients to grow a baby and stay healthy.
  • Reduce stress. It’s a good idea to reduce stress while pregnant anyway, but lowering your stress can also help support your immune system. Here are 7 tips that will help you do just that.
  • Get plenty of exercise. Great for your pregnancy and great for your immune health. Studies show that exercising during pregnancy boosts your baby’s brain power!
  • Take a food-based prenatal vitamin. Find the best prenatal vitamin for you in this post.
  • Consider taking additional vitamin D, probiotics and vitamin C, especially during flu season. Many of us are vitamin D deficient, especially those of us who live in places with cold winters. Most midwives will test your levels when pregnant and recommend supplementation when appropriate. Cod liver oil usually contains vitamin D, as well as a safe form of vitamin A, which can also boost immunity. (Be sure not to consume more than 10,000 IUs of Vitamin A from cod liver oil or liver pills per day.) Probiotics are wonderful for mama and baby during the entire pregnancy. Food-based vitamin C is also a great natural immune booster and strengthens the placenta and bag of water.

How About You?

Have you ever had a cough or cold during pregnancy? How did you get through it? What helped you get better? Share with us!

 

References

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 85,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

27 Comments

  1. The Amazon link for the probiotic is broken, can you please update or post an alternative??? Thanks!

  2. I’ve had a very nasty cold for 3 weeks now. Confirmed that it’s not the flu. Currently 29 weeks with my 4th.
    I’ve been drinking lots of water, tea with lemon and honey, taking vitamin c, d, and a, taking probiotics, eating lots of garlic, taking elderberry, and using Essential oils. I’ve also spent as much time sitting outside as possible I’m no better than when this first started.
    Any other ideas. Every time I start to feel better things flare right back up. I’m desperate for relief. My kids and hubby all had this and got better after a week or so.

  3. I have always heard pregnant women should avoid unpasteurized products because of possible contaminated like listeria. Does this not apply to raw ACV? If not I’d love to have some to help my cold. Before I got pregnant I would always mix it with honey and drink it. So beneficial!

  4. Short answer: the light and heat provided by the sun.

  5. Do anyone still doubt natural herbs? I’ve seen the great importance of natural supplements and the wonderful work they have done in people’s lives. I wonder why people still spend their money on surgery, injections and drugs each time they are sick. Natural herbs can cure all kinds of illness.
    My Herpes virus was totally reverse with natural herbs this year. Earlier this year my sister who lives in New Delhi India Purchased HSV herbal remedy from BEST HEALTH HERBAL CENTRE and they told her that their HSV herbal remedy only takes five weeks to reverse HSV completely, which she didn’t’ believe, but she had no choice than to purchase, because she knew COLD SORES was killing me slowly. When I received the herbal remedy, I only used it for five weeks, it was so shocking to see the outcome, all my cold sore disappeared and my HERPES VIRUS was fully reversed.

  6. This is so helpful! I’m 17 weeks and so full of a cold. Honey and lemon is my favourite, but I’d never thought about coffee and paracetamol together like the tablets! That’s my afternoon coffee sorted today x

  7. Is Airborne safe to take during pregnancy? I had one doctor tell me no and another tell me yes (though I don’t think she realized that it contains both an herbal blend and vitamin C). Airborne always brings me out of it when I feel a cold coming on so I have taken a couple (not exceeding 1-2) today and yesterday but I don’t want to risk doing anything to compromise my pregnancy.

  8. I am assuming the probiotic you recommend is safe during pregnancy, why do you like this one best?

  9. It was really helpful post, thanks for sharing.

  10. my mum who is 61 years old but 30 years old in her mind, has was diagnosed with severve copd, she was admitted into hospital in june 09 with an exberation of copd, she was hospitalized less than two months later and i must say alot lot worse, her sats dropped to 47 and me (her daughter) my brother and sister were called as things turned for the worse.she has to go home after a someone in the hospital recommended herbal clinic to us thankfully after three weeks and the shere determination of my mums will to live shes home, she was connected to oxygen 24hours a day, very tired,cant do things for herself. but shes alive!! this is a horrible condition for any human being to have to go thru but i can proudly say she is fully cure of COPD diease,for anyone in this condition must contact (totalcureherbalfoundation gmail com / https:// totalcureherbalfou . wixsite . com/ website)

  11. I really suffering from cough even i have finished a lots of cough syrup.but still not getting relief.
    Now ur natural remedy,i am going to use..ma last hope:(

  12. Cod liver oil is rich in vitamins A and D, which strengthens the mucus membranes and reduces inflammation in the throat and lungs. Cod liver oil has been used by mothers for years to sway allergies, colds, and asthma symptoms. Cod liver oil contains large quantities of vitamin A, D and omega fatty acids. Together they help to protect the mucous membranes, which help to trap microbes and fight infection.

  13. In pregnancy amounts greater than 10,000 IU of Vitamin A (retinol, not Beta-Carotene which is a precursor) can have teratogenic effects on a fetus (can cause Cranial-Neural-Crest Defects ie cleft palate/lip). Just FYI.

  14. I’ve been reading that taking garlic medicinally during pregnancy could cause bleeding, labor, contractions, etc. I’d love to know if you have any thoughts or resources on this. I do recommend to people to take it every 2 hours while sick as a natural remedy as you do, above! I’d hate to be recommending something that is unsafe! I’d love to hear your thoughts/resources on the topic.

  15. I thought elderberry was a no-go during pregnancy? I took it daily for a couple of years before becoming pregnant and was told I should stop… Is that incorrect?

    • There is some evidence that a pregnant woman’s body actually OVER reacts to the flu, in which case a immune stimulant may not be a good idea, but for colds and coughs it shouldn’t be an issue.

      • I was just going to ask the same question. Thanks for posting a reply! So there is nothing in the elderberry itself that can harm the baby? The only reason it’s not recommended is bc it’s an immune stimulant?

  16. So much information!! Thank you! I’m 38 weeks pregnant with my 4th and have a nasty cough. I still appreciate learning more and more. Pineappple is great for mucus too right? Thanks for all your research!

  17. Thanks for all of the great info! I noticed your cod liver oil recommendation has changed. Is there anything wrong with Green Pasture?

  18. I got a couple sinus infections with my first and what saved me was the little nose strips you stick on so I could sleep at night. A great drug free solution!

  19. Prior to pregnancy my comes would last 2-3 days normally and occasionally 1 week. Note that I’m pregnant, I have been stuck 2 times and each cold lasted 1 whole month!!! Now my husband is sick and I’m 30 weeks pregnant. I do not want to be blowing my nose and unable to breathe while delivering this baby!!

  20. Hi I am Sapana now lam pregnant in my Nepali cultural people suggest too much to pregnant woman so,I was so confused what shall I do in cough and cold.Iam thankful for above information.?

    • What??

  21. Hi I am Sapana now lam pregnant in my Nepali cultural people suggest too much to pregnant woman so,I was so confused what shall I do in cough and cold.Iam above information.?

  22. So glad I just found this post! I’m 32 weeks along and have had a cold 🙁 I’ve been doing some of these things, but could step it up a bit more to get fully rid of it. It’s lingered for about a week now. I really enjoyed heating up water and adding honey and lemon. that helped with my dry, scratchy throat and made me feel comfy at work. Spoonful of honey on the throat was nice too. Now it’s moved to a stuffy nose. I don’t have elderberry syrup, but I’ve been doing my elderberry tincture in very small amounts. I cooked a few dishes with onion and garlic. Just not ready to eat the crushed clove even with honey yet. Love garlic though.

    How many mg in IU units? I was researching vitamin C a lot and just couldn’t figure out why they say not to take much. My pills are in IU.

    You gave by far the best solutions! It’s been hard for me to find a good list for what to do natural for a cold when pregnant.

  23. Thanks for this informative post…however, many of your suggested product links are missing.

    • Thank your for the heads-up, Lacie! The post is now updated 🙂


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