Cough and Cold During Pregnancy – Natural Remedies

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 to 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).

Is it safe to take cold medications during pregnancy?

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 recently linked to an increased risk for ADHD in the child. It is also hard on the liver of the pregnant mom. These organizations agree that all medications, even ones deemed safe, should be used sparingly during pregnancy which is a great reason to try natural remedies instead.

What are natural cold and cough remedies for when you’re pregnant?

There are many effective, safe, and natural remedies for cough and cold during pregnancy, many of which can be used during a 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%! For those who did get sick, garlic helped them get better faster. During pregnancy, it’s best to consume 1 crushed, raw garlic clove with each meal. If your cold is acute, you could increase your garlic consumption to 1 crushed, raw clove per every 2-3 hours. I like to smear in raw honey for taste and added benefits.

Apple Cider Vinegar – Raw preferably. ACV alkalinizes the body and most illnesses can’t thrive in alkaline environments. It also contains good bacteria which helps to fight of infection.

  • Mix 1-2 tablespoons of ACV into water or tea and drink 3 times a day.
  • Gargle ACV to soothe a sore throat.

Honey – raw, local honey is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic. Take 1 tsp., three times a day

Onion – raw onion has phytochemicals that help keep the respiratory tract open. You can make a black bean or beef burger and top with lots of onions and mustard. You can add sauerkraut for an extra dose of probiotics!

Lemon – antibacterial. Also helps alkalinize the body. Rich in vitamin C. Take two lemons, juice and add to a quart Mason jar. Add filtered water and 1 TB of raw honey and a dash of sea salt for added minerals. Drink throughout day.

Asian Mushrooms (maitake, shitake, reishi) – Antibacterial and antiviral. I love this mushroom blend supplement! Check with your midwife or doctor to see if it’s safe for you.

Coconut oil – Antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. You can add 1/8. tsp. of Peppermint extract to 2 TB of raw coconut oil. Mix well and add either 10 drops of stevia or 1 TB of raw honey. Mix well. Then spread thin on a piece of parchment paper. Put in freezer 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. I love mixing 1 teaspoon of camu camu powder mixed in a 1/4 cup of yogurt with 1 teaspoon of raw honey. Mix well and eat. The yogurt provides probiotics to boot!

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 lemonade, bone broth, herbal teas, coconut water and this special electrolyte drink are all fantastic. Stay away from caffeine as this can further dehydrate you.

Homemade chicken soup – take your bone broth and cook in a pot with onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms, parsley and cut up chicken. Add sea salt for taste and mineral boost.

Warm salt water – use as a gargle for a sore throat or with a neti pot for congestion.

High quality probiotic – supports general health and good immune response. I like this one best.

Elderberry syrup – Many pregnant mamas have great success with elderberry syrup to relieve cough and cold symptoms. It’s an immune booster which 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.

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

  • Cayenne powder – antimicrobial, analgesic, and expectorant.
  • Garlic – antiviral, antibiotic, and antiseptic.
  • Ginger – antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Good for upset tummy.
  • Thyme – antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant, and astringent. Great for respiratory infections, coughs, and upset tummy.
  • Cinnamon – antiviral, and antibiotic.

What should I do if I feel a cold during pregnancy coming on?

Keep in mind that some of your symptoms may be from other pregnancy related issues like PUPPS, and not necessarily a cold.

  • Get lots of rest and water. 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 Supplements:

Vitamin D – 10,000 IU a day until cold subsides. I like 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. I prefer organic, food-based vitamin Cs since they are gentler and don’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. You could also consume 2 Brazil nuts a day to boost your intake.

Probiotics – double your normal daily amount.

  • Drink lots of herbal tea and hot liquids, at least one cup every 3 hours.
  • Add lemon to hot water in the morning.
  • Add equal parts coconut oil and raw honey plus cinnamon to taste to a cup of hot water or tea.
  • Eat Asian mushroom and/or chicken soup flavored with garlic, onion, thyme or cayenne.

Natural ways to boost your immune system to prevent a cold

Many cold and cough remedies are also excellent at preventing illness. These suggestions are also great overall health habits during pregnancy and beyond.

Hygiene. Wash your hands before meals and don’t touch your face. You can use a witch hazel hand sanitizer when a sink isn’t available.

Get enough sleep. Studies have shown 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. I like Baby & Me, Vitamin Code, and Rainbow Light. Find the best prenatal vitamin for you in this post.

Consider taking additional vitamin D, probiotics and vitamin C, especially if you’re in the flu season. Many of us are vitamin D deficient, especially those of us who lives 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. By boosting your probiotic levels, you may be able to ward off Strep B positive during pregnancy. Food-based vitamin C is a great natural immune booster and strengthens the placenta and bag of water. This can help prevent the premature rupture of membranes!

What if my husband/partner/family member has a cold or cough?

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!

  • Follow the suggestions for preventing a cold to lower your risk of getting sick.
  • 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.

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

“Acetaminophen use during pregnancy, behavioral problems, and hyperkinetic disorders.” console.aws.amazon.com/s3/home?region=us-west-2

“The H1N1 Primer for Pregnant Women by Maryl Smith.” Midwifery Today. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/preg_h1n1primer.asp>.

“Mushroom and Health: Edible, Medicinal, and Psychedelic Types.” WebMD. WebMD. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/types-of-mushrooms>.

“Herbs and Pregnancy – American Pregnancy Association.” American Pregnancy Association. 26 Apr. 2012. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/herbs-and-pregnancy/>.

“12 Strategies to Strengthen Your Immune System.” Mother Earth News. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/strengthen-your-immune-system-zmaz10aszraw.aspx?PageId=1>.

“Colds and Flu During Pregnancy.” University of Michigan Health System. Web. 3 Mar. 2015. <http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/wha/umpgprob05.htm>.

“Cough and Cold During Pregnancy – American Pregnancy Association.” American Pregnancy Association. 9 July 2014. Web. 3 Mar. 2015. <http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/cough-cold-during-pregnancy/>.

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21 Comments

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  1. 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.

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

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

  4. 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)

  5. 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:(

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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!

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

  12. 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!

  13. 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!!

  14. 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??

  15. 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.?

  16. 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.

  17. 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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