Need a little relief? Find out how real food and common supplements can help you feel better in a flash.
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:
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.
Raw, local honey is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic. (source)
- Take 1 teaspoon three times a day
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!
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.
Maitake, shitake, and reishi mushrooms have antibacterial and antiviral properties. (source)
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.
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.
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
- Ginger: antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory (good for an upset tummy)
- Thyme: antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant, and astringent (great for respiratory infections, coughs, and upset tummy)
- Cinnamon: antiviral 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!